Calif. college votes to delay disputed 2-tier fees

Scott pledged to work with college leaders on strategies to improve access and success for all students.

Tsang’s request to put the two-tier plan on hold also hinted at the college funding woes that prompted the proposal.

“I must warn that this postponement in no way addresses the state funding crisis and the lack of seats for our students to progress in a timely way,” he said.

Tsang called Tuesday night’s clash a “truly regrettable event” and said the college’s police department will conduct an internal investigation and a panel will be appointed to conduct a separate review.

Students at Santa Monica College have struggled to complete their degrees in recent years as budget cuts have resulted in fewer classes. About 1,100 classes out of 7,430 have been slashed since 2008 at the campus.

Under the two-tier plan, a nonprofit foundation would be formed to offer courses for up to $600 each, or about $200 per unit.

School spokesman Bruce Smith said it had been estimated the courses would attract as many as 1,500 to 2,000 students. With a typical 3-unit course being $540, it could have generated as much as $1 million.

The extra courses at the higher rate would help students who were not able to get into the full, in-demand classes.

California community college budgets have seen more than $800 million in cuts over the past three years, causing them to turn away about 200,000 students and drastically cut course offerings.

The Santa Monica school has an enrollment of roughly 30,000 students.

Most students were opposed to the two-tier plan, arguing it would be a detriment to low-income students who couldn’t afford the new classes. But some students and teachers supported the program.

“Doing nothing benefits no one,” student D.J. Davids said.

Labeled as a way to privatize classes, the program was meant to be a modern-day Robin Hood where the rich would pay more money so the school could benefit, said trustee Rob Rader.

“We’re desperately not trying to be the villains here,” Rader said.

Other campuses are closely watching what happens with Santa Monica’s program. Several colleges also have inquired about starting similar programs.

An Assembly bill last year would have allowed the higher-fee programs, but it did not pass. Fourteen colleges and college districts supported the measure.

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