An improving economy, frustration over the past few years of cutting classes and legislation lowering the number of times a class can be repeated are responsible for the downsizing, according to Vice President of Instruction Kathleen Welch.
During the spring semester there were 14,200 students registered, and 13,600 in the fall of 2012. Cabrillo is Santa Cruz County's only community college and has campuses in Watsonville, Scotts Valley and Aptos.
"Though we are very happy to see that enrollment is catching up to F12, we added classes to F13 so our hope is to exceed F12 enrollment," said Welch, in an email "Our enrollment is 'soft' for many reasons, including the fact that we have turned students away for the last several years of budget reduction, because we had fewer courses offered."
Last year things at the school looked dire with statewide budget cuts threatened, but the passage of Proposition 30, a quarter of a cent sales tax that will raise $6 billion, not only helped staunch the bleeding, but allowed the college to add classes.
"Now when we want to build enrollment, we are facing the perfect storm: Our students are getting jobs because the economy is improving," Welch said. "This is a good thing. However, we also are seeing the effect of legislated changes in repeatability, course repetition, and financial aid for students."
Cabrillo officials said that as students realize there are more classes from which to choose in the next three weeks, attendance could increase significantly.
The school hired a new president this summer, Dr. Laurel Jones, replacing Brian King, who moved to the Los Rios Community College District, which has 90,000 students and offered a significant pay raise. His salary increased to $267,500 from $233,680.