In the meantime, City College has exactly one year to reverse its fortunes: The loss of accreditation doesn't actually kick in until July, 2014. A special trustee appointed by the state will be granted all the powers of the locally elected City College Board of Trustees to get with the federal program. Without voting power, the elected body is effectively castrated.
No one knows what that will mean for the college board, not even Mayor Ed Lee, who issued a statement supporting the state takeover and criticizing local trustees for not cutting enough. "The ACCJC is fundamentally hostile to elected boards and they've made that clear," City College Trustee Rafael Mandelman told us. "The Board of Trustees should and may look at all possible legal options around this."
Although officials say classes will proceed as normal for the next year, some aren't waiting around to see if City College will survive.
At its last board meeting, the CCSF Board of Trustees grappled with how to address dwindling enrollment. As news of its accreditation troubles spread, City College has been under-enrolled by thousands of students, exacerbating its problems. Since the state funds colleges based on numbers of students, City College's funding is plummeting by the millions.
A frightening statistic: When Compton College lost its accreditation in 2005 and was subsequently absorbed by a neighboring district, it lost half its student population, according to state records.
Even the faculty is having a hard time hanging on, said Alisa Messer, the college's faculty union president.
"People are looking for jobs elsewhere already. Despite everyone's dedication to see the college through, it has tried everyone and stretched them to the limit," she told us.
The college has two hopes — that the CFT wins its lawsuit and can reverse the ACCJC decision, or that the new special trustee can somehow turn the college around by next July. But either way, something will be lost. "City College is definitely changing," Saginor said. "What it will change into, and if those changes will be permanent, that I don't know."