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To Offer Free Tuition Without Layoffs, CCSF Needs An Enrollment Bump

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) -- With the passage of Proposition W, City College of San Francisco is set to be free.

But the college has been facing an accreditation crisis after questions about its financial health.

Now, CCSF is planning for possible layoffs if enrollment doesn't improve.

Proposition W increases a real estate tax and will make City College Free for San Francisco residents.

Tim Killikelly, the president of the city college teachers' union, said, "The issue that the college really has to deal with in finances has to do with the uncertainty that is happening around enrollment."

Since 2013, CCSF has lost a third of its enrollment.

And money that the state gave to stabilize the school -- about $144 million over the last four years -- is about to end.

Ron Gerhart is CCSF's vice chancellor, and he had to deliver the bad news to a recent meeting of City College trustees.

"We have a $35 million drop in funding beginning July 1," Gerhard said.

While the ballot measure promised free City College for San Franciscans, the money from Prop. W actually goes into the General Fund - where it can be spent for any purpose.

Gerhard said, "We're certainly excited about Proposition W and what it may mean. Right at this point in time we're not completely settled or sure in terms of … tangibly, what's it's going to look like."

Assuming the city does budget additional money for the college, paying tuition for current students won't be enough.

They need new students - and they hope the prospect of free college credits will get them in the door.

"We expect and we think that people understanding they can go to college for free now … will help boost the college's enrollment," Killikelly said.

But if it doesn't, there may be cuts in everything from staff to supplies.

So for San Franciscans who really want to support City College, Gerhard said, "We have classes for you. Please enroll."

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