Community colleges are authorized by statute and regulation to offer community services classes, which are defined as "classes in civic, vocational, literacy, health, homemaking, technical and general education, including, but not limited to, classes in the fields of music, drama, art, handicraft, science, literature, nature study, nature contacting, aquatic sports and athletics." Community services classes are not the same as noncredit courses. They do not require approval from the Chancellor's Office and are not connected with any approved program.
Community colleges do not collect any state apportionment for community services offerings. They must charge students in these classes a fee sufficient to cover the cost of maintaining the classes, or they may provide community services classes by contract, or with contributions or donations from individuals or groups.
Community college districts are also prohibited from spending state general fund moneys to maintain community service classes. Thus these classes must be fully self-supporting, but, conversely, fees are not permitted to exceed the cost of maintaining the classes. The Board of Governors, pursuant to statute, has adopted guidelines to define the acceptable costs for which a community services fee may be charged (BOG Agenda, May 1985, Item 5).
The statutory authorization for community services offerings may be found at Education Code Section 78300:
78300. Authorization; topics; admission; funds; fees.
(a) The governing board of any community college district may, without the approval of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, establish and maintain community service classes in civic, vocational, literacy, health, homemaking, technical and general education, including, but not limited to, classes in the fields of music, drama, art, handicraft, science, literature, nature study, nature contacting, aquatic sports and athletics. These classes shall be designed to provide instruction and to contribute to the physical, mental, moral, economic, or civic development of the individuals or groups enrolled therein.
(b) Community service classes shall be open for the admission of adults and of those minors as in the judgment of the governing board may profit therefrom.
(c) Governing boards shall not expend General Fund moneys to establish and maintain community service classes. Governing boards may charge students enrolled in community service classes a fee not to exceed the cost of maintaining community service classes, or may provide instruction in community service classes for remuneration by contract, or with contributions or donations of individuals or groups. The board of governors shall adopt guidelines defining the acceptable reimbursable costs for which a fee may be charged and shall collect data and maintain uniform accounting procedures to ensure that General Fund moneys are not used for community services classes.
The Title 5 reference is Section 55160:
55160. Approval of Community Service Classes.
(a) Districts are authorized in accordance with the provisions of article 7 (commencing with section 78300) of chapter 2, part 48 of the Education Code to approve and conduct community services classes without the approval of the Chancellor. The classification of all such classes shall be reported to the Chancellor in accordance with Section 55001.
(b) Community services classes shall not be referred to as noncredit classes.
Title 5 also includes a definition of community services classes and the standards they must meet:
55002. Standards and Criteria for Courses and Classes.
. . . (d) Community Services Class. A community services class is a class that meets the following minimum requirements:
(1) is approved by the local district governing board;
(2) is designed for the physical, mental, moral, economic, or civic development of persons enrolled therein;
(3) provides subject matter content, resource materials, and teaching methods which the district governing board deems appropriate for the enrolled students;
(4) is conducted in accordance with a predetermined strategy or plan;
(5) is open to all members of the community; and
(6) may not be claimed for apportionment purposes.