San Mateo County Community College District Plans to Expand Free Community College | Local News

As part of efforts to reduce costs for local students, the San Mateo County Community College District is set to invest $ 6.75 million in programs that reduce tuition costs and provide a variety of other financial and educational supports.

The district administration board expressed support on Wednesday June 9 for the investment of $ 3 million in the expansion of its Promise Scholars program, which aims to eliminate registration fees for students in need of a financial aid.

Although no decision was made during the meeting, officials expressed interest in investing in the program which also recently received $ 2 million from the San Mateo County Supervisory Board.

“It’s a great job,” said administrator John Pimentel, who campaigned on a platform offering free community college to local students and advocated for investment in programs that expand access to school. ‘education.

The Promise Scholars program waives two years of tuition fees for eligible students, pays book fees, and offers support such as additional advice and services. District officials hope that enrollment in the program will increase with the investment from 2,000 students currently to 6,000 students.

To further improve access, officials also discussed paying $ 2 million into the district college program, which allows local high school students to simultaneously enroll in the community college district and earn college credits.

The program has been particularly successful in attracting northern county students to Skyline College, and officials hope additional investments will yield similar results at the College of San Mateo and Cañada College.

Authorities have recognized that the intermediate and dual enrollment programs are a useful tool for increasing enrollment in districts, which have declined in recent years, while helping students quickly gain certification for lucrative careers.

To further amplify the enrollment improvement measures, officials considered launching a program that automatically accepts all high school graduates from the county into the community college district. Officials hoped that a spontaneous letter of acceptance followed by an outreach program offering inexpensive enrollment opportunities could facilitate greater interest in the benefits of a community college education.

To help cut costs further, officials discussed spending $ 1.25 million on a program designed to reduce spending on textbooks.

Using digital resources, open source materials, and operating the district’s library system could be options to reduce the amount students have to pay for educational materials, according to a district report.

As officials searched for a variety of programmatic improvements, they also discussed an opportunity to reconfigure the priorities of the school system.

As part of their strategic planning, officials agreed that income generating opportunities should be removed from the stated goals of the district. Noting that the priority persisted from the previous administration of disgraced former Chancellor Ron Galatolo, officials agreed that making money should be left out of the planning process.

And while Pimentel also favored removing international student recruitment from the priorities, his colleagues preferred to preserve the goal in recognition of the value of a diverse student body.

In other cases, administrators have voted 4 to 1 to hire former athletics administrator Gary Dilley to help determine the future of the district’s gym facilities on the San Mateo College and Cañada College campuses. .

Officials hired Dilley to help Chancellor Michael Claire define the terms of their expectation that gymnasium operations should be absorbed by the district, rather than allowing a third party to manage sports facilities.

Board chairman Tom Nuris opposed the proposal, in line with his belief that the district should not take over the management of gyms.

“I think we are opening Pandora’s box,” he said.

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