SUISUN VALLEY — Ivan Sinkevich of Vacaville balanced his first day back at Solano Community College on Wednesday by starting his own classes and helping a wave of new students get to theirs.
“I have been here since 7:30 a.m.,” Sinkevich said while staffing an information booth on the campus’ east side and wearing a green T-shirt with the phrase ‘Ask Me’ emblazoned on it. A lot of students asked him.
He, along with several similarly attired educators and a dozen other students, fielded questions ranging from parking permits to where their classes were located.
“I had three students all in a row who showed up at the wrong campus,” Sinkevich said.
He quickly deduced where they should go and directed them to Solano College’s Vacaville campus.
The Ask Me program, which started this semester, is an evolution of the older student ambassadors program that had students helping their newer peers adjust to community college life.
“We have grown it to involve faculty and staff, which is very important,” said Solano College Outreach and Public Relations Manager Shemila Johnson, who described the program as a boon to students who “don’t have to chase around for info.”
Solano College opened its fall semester with a greater effort to offer classes that students need for transfer to four-year colleges with schedules that students will benefit from, Johnson said. The community college has also spent the past year reaching out to the community more with representatives at public events at the Solano County Fair and Vallejo’s Juneteenth celebration and Fairfield’s Earth Day event.
“We have tried to cover Solano County to get information for those who are interested in coming back to school,” Johnson said.
Students came back to find the administration building at the Fairfield campus under reconstruction as part of the latest capital improvement projects made possible by the voter-approved $348 million Measure Q tax. Work on the building is expected to be done by the end of this year. On the flip side, Solano College also starts the school year with a $2.6 million deficit in its 2014-15 budget.
The college’s vice president of finance and administration, Yulian Ligioso, told the college district’s governing board this month that “we have our work cut out for us” because of declining enrollment. Solano College’s enrollment has dipped since 2011-12 and it did not meet needed target enrollment numbers during the spring and summer semesters. State funding is based on enrollment.
This new challenge comes after the college successfully battled to keep its accreditation and remove itself from sanctions, which it did in February.
Solano College now faces suggestions from Ligioso for cutting the deficit and improving the college district’s financial standing by reducing staff expenditures by $1.75 million, aiming for an 8 percent general fund reserve level, increasing enrollment, examining more efficient scheduling of classes and developing a plan to address 2015-16 growth.
Reach Ian Thompson at 427-6976 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ithompsondr.