The Community College of San Fransisco is facing a daunting task. Here’s what’s happening:

In July, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, said it plans to revoke the school’s accreditation at the end of the school year, giving the college a year to prove that it can turn around or be shut down.

Here’s why CCSF is in this difficult position:

Among other failings, the private agency found the school had failed to reduce spending amid state funding declines while keeping too little money in reserves. City College has $10 million in savings and $850,000 set aside for emergencies, but the accreditor found the school faces long-term problems if it doesn’t change its spending patterns.

The commission also found the college didn’t meet standards in some instructional programs, in student support services and in library facilities.

Imagine that. Another California institution thinks spending isn’t linked to revenues. The culture must change:

Mr. Agrella has instituted a de facto hiring freeze on vacated faculty positions he considered not essential to the curriculum. Last month, he named a new chancellor, Arthur Tyler, to succeed an interim one. In perhaps his most controversial move, Mr. Agrella canceled a new $120 million performing-arts center.

That’s ridiculous. What community college needs a $120,000,000 performing arts center even in the best of times? CCSF isn’t enjoying the best of times, making this decision seem rather foolish. Despite the situation, people are upset with Mr. Agrella’s decision:

Timothy Killikelly, 56, a political-science instructor, said he likes Mr. Agrella, but disagrees with some of his moves, such as canceling the performing-arts center, mainly because voters had passed a bond measure for it.

CCSF won’t exist a year from now if a) it doesn’t get spending under control and b) it doesn’t focus its mission to what’s essential. The state accrediting board can put CCSF out of business if it doesn’t start acting responsibly. That would make the bonding vote moot. (Then again, we’re talking California, so it’s possible that they’d spend money on a performing arts center on the campus of a now-defunct community college.)

CCSF is the most dramatic case of financial mismanagement I’ve read. Unfortunately, it isn’t the only collegiate institution that’s been poorly managed. Colleges and universities nationwide have spent money foolishly, especially on shiny buildings that enhance a president’s self-image but do little to build a well-educated workforce.

At St. Cloud State, one of the least-talked-about financial disasters is the renovation of the National Hockey Center. It’s now known as the Herb Brooks National Hockey Center. When the project was first announced, it was called the National Hockey and Event Center. When fundraising fell far short of the goal, the event center part of the project got dropped like a hot potato.

With enrollment dropping like a rock, tuition revenues have fallen short of what’s needed. Now SCSU is figuring out what to cut from their budget.

If only management had learned that you can’t spend money you don’t have on things you don’t need.

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