CSU gets a boost, sort of: Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger is honoring the higher-education compact with the California State University system by proposing more than $200 million in new revenue for the CSU’s 2005-06 budget. If the governor’s proposed budget increase is approved, it would provide state General Fund revenue of about $2.6 billion for the CSU.

According to a press release from the CSU Chancellor’s Office, the compact funding provided in the governor’s budget looks to restore student access, employee compensation and mandatory costs for health benefits, new space and insurance and energy costs.

But while the revenue increase looks good for the CSU, students will foot the bill for nearly half of it, with a $101.2 million increase in student fees in fall 2005.

Included in the 2005-06 budget is a general-operations increase of $88 million to support a 3.5 percent increase for faculty and staff. The budget will also designate about $23 million for financial aid, which brings the State University Grant funding to approximately $230 million.

The higher-education compact is a six-year agreement from 2005-06 through 2010-11 and promises to fund at least a 2.5 percent enrollment growth.

No class: After a nearly one-month break since its last meeting, the Chico school district’s Campus Consolidation Committee convened on Jan. 11 to discuss the five final cost-reduction scenarios proposed back in mid-December. Adding to the already difficult task, committee members announced that two new scenarios were to be examined before a final meeting on Jan. 18.

The school board appointed the committee back in September to come up with a recommendation of closing at least one elementary school to help reach the goal of saving the district approximately $1 million in its budget, but the idea has angered many parents of kids in schools likely to close.

At Tuesday’s meeting, the committee as a whole agreed to put off closure of three small schools, Forest Ranch, Cohasset and Nord elementaries, as proposed in all five of the original final scenarios. But Jay Partridge, Hooker Oak, Rosedale and Sierra View and possibly Chapman are still on the block. For a more in-depth report, please see our Web site at

Sun bidders battle for Butte booty: The Butte County supes felt the need to restart bidding on a new one-megawatt solar-power project after the construction company that built the last such project for the county told the board it had been unfairly excluded from the bidding process.

After county staff gave a report recommending that Berkeley firm Power Light be hired to build the approximately $8 million project (about $5 million of it will be paid for by state and PG&E grants), representatives of Sun Power geothermal said the bid they prepared was for an “an a la carte menu” of projects drawn up before the county had decided specifically what it wanted. Sun Power’s bid was rejected mainly because it carried a higher cost per kilowatt than Power Light’s.

Both companies are expected to resubmit bids for the project, which will be built on and around the county complex in Oroville.