SF Gate, October 22, 2013. Twenty-one Bay Area colleges have agreed to enroll students from City College of San Francisco if the huge school loses accreditation next year and has to close, and two universities would keep its records, college administrators say in a new report that also details how they would handle nearly $900 million in real estate and personal property.
The administrators contacted 21 community colleges accessible from City College by public transportation and received commitments to enroll students. San Francisco State University also agreed to keep student transcripts, and Cal State East Bay said it would house personnel records - more than 11,000 of them - for City College employees past and present.
The agreements are included in a 104-page report that is City College's second attempt to spell out what would happen to students, employees and assets if it closes. Its first attempt - just 14 pages long and submitted in March - was rejected as insufficient by the accrediting commission that announced in July it will yank the college's accreditation next summer.
Officially, the document is the "closure report" required of all colleges facing potential loss of accreditation.
But City College has labeled its new version a "contingency plan" because administrators say they are determined to turn the school around before anyone can pull its right to operate.
Special Trustee Robert Agrella, appointed by the state in July to run City College after its Board of Trustees was stripped of power, did not respond to requests for comment.
In July, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges ordered City College to take more seriously its responsibility to produce a meaningful closure report because students and faculty members need to know what to expect if the worst comes to pass.
City College enrolls about 80,000 full- and part-time students, and employs about 2,000 people.
"All CCSF faculty and staff contracts will be respected, followed and honored to the extent possible," the report promises. At the same time, it says, each employee can expect to receive a layoff warning by March 15, California's legally required deadline for such notices.
Some faculty members may stay on past the expected July 31 closure date because students who have completed 75 percent of their degree or program will be allowed to finish their studies and receive a diploma or certificate from City College if they wish.
College officials say they aren't sure how much the land is worth under their many buildings scattered around the city. But the buildings and their contents come to about $897 million, according to a 2012 insurance report. The college district owns all but its Mission campus, which is on a 75-year lease.
Even so, the buildings cannot be sold until they are first offered "for park or recreational purposes" within the county at below-market prices, according to state law. If the Recreation and Parks Department doesn't want them, only then could they be sold at market prices.
But the report says the college district run by Agrella might have a good reason for holding on to its property: It "may desire to establish a new community college" at some point.
The 21 colleges that have agreed to enroll misplaced City College students include some as far away as San Jose City College, 47 miles to the south, and Santa Rosa Junior College, 58 miles to the north.
Not invited, apparently, was Solano Community College - the only other Bay Area college in trouble with the accrediting commission. It's "on warning," the mildest of three sanction levels.
City College is one of three colleges in the Western accrediting region placed on the most severe sanction, called "show cause." The others are College of the Sequoias, with 12,000 students in Visalia (Tulare County), and tiny Northern Marianas College, with 1,200 students. It's in Saipan.