State

Columbia College drops community classes

COLUMBIA — People hoping to learn about quilting, home-buying and computers through Columbia College's community education program will have to look elsewhere.

This week, officials eliminated the noncredit classes through summer 2011 because of lower enrollment and attempts to trim the foothill college's budget.

"We just don't have the resources needed to maintain the program at this time," Dennis Gervin, vice president of student learning, said in a statement.

Last fall, about 500 students signed up for community education classes and two dozen people taught courses.

Community education is different than other classes: It does not receive funding from the state, and courses usually focus on personal interests and professional development through short classes, workshops and field trips. Students do not earn college credit or receive grades.

Fees range from $50 for a basic Internet class that meets twice to field trips to Costa Rica or Italy that can cost as much as $4,000 for 9 or 10 days.

Registration fees that students have paid for any current classes will be returned.

Sister campus Modesto Junior College still offers community education programs but may have to downsize courses because of cuts in state funding.

Columbia College President Joan Smith said some offerings, such as youth basketball camps and English as a second language, will continue through other college departments. Not every community college offers a community education program, Smith said.

She noted that community education was in the red by about a third of its budget. The program must pay for itself, which hasn't happened for several years, she said.

"In these economic times, people are not spending money to learn those types of things," Smith said.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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