DVC tutoring

Students will find it more difficult to receive help at the English Tutoring Lab this semester, as DVC tightens its financial belt in anticipation of budget cuts.   

Located on the first floor of the Learning Center, the lab is has cut back its daily hours by one, Mondays through Thursdays, and fewer tutors are available to help students.  
Though both drop-in and appointment tutoring are still offered, the English Tutoring Lab is trying to operate in a “fiscally responsible and conservative” manner, said lab coordinator Heather Lee.
“We’re waiting to see how the budget influences our ability to provide tutoring,” Lee said, adding that this semester is a “trial run” in anticipation of future changes.
Overall, however, the outlook is grim. “Given what’s going on in the state, we’re waiting for the axe to fall,” said Heidi Goen-Salter, who oversees the Learning Center’s English programs.
While drop-in hours are currently offered, a permanent schedule will not be made until later this month.  Newly trained English-140 students will pick up these additional hours, with each tutor assigned up to two tutees per week. 
In addition to 13 returning tutors, as many as 21 new tutors may be added to the program from the class, said desk staff and DVC alumnus Maggie Karr.
Each tutee is allowed two hours of tutoring every week.  During the first weeks of the semester, the few drop-in hours available were in high demand.      
“Sessions are filling up within a couple hours of printing the schedule,” said Karr. 
Though Karr estimated about 40 hours would be added to make up the permanent schedule, she acknowledged it will not be enough. 
     “We won’t be able to provide for all of them,” she said of the mostly remedial English and ESL students who use the lab.     
ESL students like Minoo Saghafi, 61, are already feeling the effects.  There is a “big difference” between the past two years and this semester, she said. 
It is especially frustrating having to wait until 3 p.m. to make a drop-in appointment, Saghafi added.       
Unable to get a drop-in appointment on a recent afternoon, Russell Hawkins, 21, asked the lab’s desk staff for help on the thesis statement for his English paper.
A criminal justice major, Hawkins said he is having trouble finding help at the English Lab.     
   “This semester [there are] a lot more people,” he said. 
Hawkins said getting help from an English tutor is imperative. “It’s how I got through the tough times with writing,” he said of last semester. 
      In fact, many students turn to the English Tutoring Lab for help with subjects other than English.  In the spring of 2008, students from 236 courses received tutoring involving their writing and reading skills,  Lee said.
      To offset the demand, the lab is telling instructors to encourage students to come in for group tutoring sessions.            
Last semester, the lab was forced to close its doors almost three weeks early due to budget shortfalls, leaving both students and tutors frustrated. 
      Tutors received notices telling them the English Lab had to close unexpectedly, although English-140 trainees retained their hours.
      “It was a huge surprise,” said Anita King, 24, in a recent interview.  Though she will be tutoring eight hours per week this semester, King said her $9.31per-hour salary is highly important. 
      “I’m now the only person in my family working”, she said.  “My family is depending on me to pay the rent.” 
      Until a decision is made about how each program’s budget will be affected, Lee said she is “cautious and a little hopeful.”
      Although she is frustrated with her inability to help everyone who needs it, Lee said she realizes that many other programs have been or will be hit harder. 
      “We’re trying,” she said, “to do our best with the state of the state.”