City College of San Fran Has a Year to Shape Up or Close

City College of San Francisco is now facing an ultimatum: shape up in the next year or face closure, the San Francisco Gate reports. The report, released by the group charged with evaluating the conditions at the school, says that the next 8 months will determine the fate of the college. Still, the conclusions indicated that the group was not optimistic. The report warns the poorly-run college to prepare itself to be shuttered.

The report, issued by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges was a surprise and the fact that it would see one of the largest community colleges in the state shuttered in as little as a year stunned observers. The school, which is home to nearly 90,000 students, could see its accreditation yanked as early as this summer, and thus lose access to most forms of public education funding.

That perilous judgment was conveyed Tuesday in a letter to Pamila Fisher, interim chancellor of City College, as the commission released its comprehensive review of the school. The college now has the burden of proof to "show cause" for why it should retain accreditation.

"Since the loss of accreditation would likely cause City College of San Francisco to close, during the ‘show cause' period the College must make preparations for closure according to the Commission's Policy on Closing an Institution," Beno wrote Fisher.

The fact that the commission is not optimistic about the chances of the CCSF's ability to right itself is evident in the fact that they've requested that, in addition to a letter explaining how the college plans to proceed in fixing its problems, they should also submit a "closure report" by March 15 deadline which has now passed. If CCSF loses accreditation this year, it will become only the second California school in recent years to have done so. In 2005, the commission yanked accreditation from the Los Angeles-based Compton College.

The new findings echoed those of 2006, when 8 major problems with how CCFS was run were identified by the commission. Judging by the most recent report, instead of taking the matter in hand, the school's governors actually took a few steps backwards. This time around, the commission identified 15 problems, and demanded a concrete plan to solve 14 of them by the March deadline.

In her letter, Beno summarized the findings of the 66-page report, citing "leadership weaknesses at all levels," "failure to react to ongoing reduced funding," and spending all but 8 percent of its budget on salaries and benefits. The Chronicle, which had obtained a copy of the report, wrote about the findings on Saturday.

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