City College of San Francisco is celebrating the opening of its new Chinatown/North Beach campus today, just days after the release of a report suggesting the community college is on the brink of insolvency.
The 14-story campus at 800 Kearny St. is expected to serve more than 7,500 students, according to City College officials. It includes a childcare observation lab, library, computer laboratories, a multipurpose room and teleconference capabilities.
In the works for more than 30 years, the campus was financed by city bonds, private donations and $48 million in state funding.
Mayor Ed Lee is expected to be among the dignitaries who will mark the opening of the campus with a ceremony at 5:30 p.m. today.
The celebration comes after the release earlier this week of a critical financial review by the state’s Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team.
The team, tasked with providing financial assistance to California school districts, stated in the report that the school “has provided salary increases and generous benefits with no discernible means to pay for them.”
The report was released prior to Tuesday’s meeting of City College’s Board of Trustees and said that the school is at “a point at which it must either make significant and ongoing budget adjustments or face the prospect of insolvency and possible state intervention.”
Despite the report, officials expressed optimism about the new campus.
“We are pleased and excited to see the Chinatown campus come to completion,” said interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher in a statement. “We are confident that the community’s investment in this campus will help City College better meet the needs of students, present and future.”
Board member Lawrence Wong acknowledged the report today in a statement, noting “We have all read the headlines.”
Wong said, “We know that this is an era where budget cuts are the unfortunate reality, and as a City College trustee I am committed to making the changes necessary to keep the college operating.”
He said, “I know that my community will continue to step up to the plate to ensure this campus has the resources it needs, which is important not just for Chinatown, but for all of San Francisco.”
Along with its financial problems, the school is also facing issues over its accreditation.
City College was placed on “show cause” status in July by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which cited problems with the school’s governing structure and facilities, among other issues.
The school is required to submit by Oct. 15 an action plan outlining how they will address the problems. That report will be presented to the trustees and discussed at their next meeting on Sept. 27, Kamer said.