In the face of declining enrollments at its Lake Isabella campus, Cerro Coso Community College announced on Tuesday, September 28, 2020 its intent to restructure services to area residents.
“Cerro Coso Community College is not leaving the valley,” stated Vice President for Instruction, Dr. Corey Marvin. “We have been looking for ways to sustain our services, and the time has come to give up the large facility we currently lease, which unfortunately sits mostly empty from its heyday fifteen years ago.”
Doing something different at KRV was one of the strategies now retired president Jill Board recommended to the Board of Trustees last October to address the declining enrollment. In 2019-2020, the average class size, not counting dual-enrollment classes at Kern Valley High School, was fewer than 7 students. A much-reduced schedule was originally built for this fall semester, and then the pandemic hit and all instruction moved online.
After months of discussion, an agreement to terminate the college’s lease with the property owner of the current KRV facility was finalized and is on the Kern Community College Board of Trustees agenda for October.
“It was a tough decision,” said Marvin. “Despite the best efforts of faculty and staff and the continued loyalty of KRV students and the community, enrollment has been in a state of near continual decline. Some of it can be traced back to specific hits like the Erskine Fire of 2016 and some of it is because of long-term demographic trends like a population that largely does not fit well with the California Community College Chancellor’s Office recent focus on degree and certificate completion over lifelong learning,” he said.
“The direction from the KCCD Board of Trustees to remove the college from its reserves and operate on a balanced budget made it clear the ongoing needs of the college and its students are not best served by maintaining a large facility in Lake Isabella.” This is especially important, he noted, as state revenues are highly uncertain in the near future.
No faculty or staff positions are being eliminated.
The college will continue to offer area high schools students dual and concurrent enrollment classes that provide them with both college and high school credit and gives them a head start in their higher education journeys.
The change will allow the college to adopt a more modern look in a smaller office location so that the KRV community will still be provided educational assistance for Cerro Coso’s robust distance education programs.
Thanks to technology supported by the new location, getting an education will be easier than ever. Cerro Coso has been a pioneer in distance education since 1997, the first community college in the state to offer an entire degree online, and offers the ability for students to take classes in a variety of modalities including scheduled Zoom, hybrids, and fully online courses. This gave the college an advantage when all colleges were forced to move their classes to remote delivery during the spring 2020 semester due to COVID-19. This fall semester, over 120 KRV students are taking distance education classes with Cerro Coso. These students are averaging over 2 classes each, noted Marvin, as they make progress toward their educational goals.
“We want to provide our students with as stable as possible education during these times of uncertainty,” stated Marvin. “Restructuring our services is a necessity to preserve college opportunities for future generations of valley residents and Cerro Coso students,” he concluded.
The college has also implemented a number of strategies to assist students with laptop loans and remote delivery services for counseling, tutoring, financial aid, library, Access Programs, student engagement, and more.
Offering a comprehensive program of classes in the Kern River Valley since 1986, it may not be business as usual, but Cerro Coso Community College remains committed to serving the higher education needs of the valley.