Budget cuts affect Math Spot resources

Odessa Leeper/The Et cetera
Math tutor Sara Culver helps student Olivia Garcia.
Odessa Leeper/The Et cetera
Math tutor Sara Culver helps student Olivia Garcia.
By Billy Dennis

Recent administrative budget cuts have made it more difficult for students to receive the help they need in math.

With roughly 75 percent of the school’s students being required to take at least one developmental math class, the tutoring center is arguably one of the most valuable resources on campus. And statistics show it is becoming even more popular.

The number of visitors to the Math Spot was up by nearly 1,000 students during the fall semester.

Up until last spring, the various departments offering tutoring were grouped under one budget and housed in one location, the Learning Assistance Center (LAC). When they decentralized and separated budgets, the Math Spot began having trouble meeting student demand.

According to math instructor Leticia Escobar, who runs the tutoring center, the cuts have forced the Math Spot to reduce the number of tutors working at any one time.

“We used to have at least three math tutors working at all times, besides the accounting and economics tutors,” Escobar said.

Kimberly DeGonia Johnson said the reduction in tutors has forced her to look for help outside of school.

“Even though there were not many students in attendance, there were even fewer tutors, she said. “When I finally was able to speak with a tutor, he was constantly interrupted by other students. That experience has made me reluctant to go back.”

Escobar said 4,716 students accessed the Math Spot in the fall, and the numbers seem to be climbing each semester.

Last fall students were able to sign up for a 30-minute one-on-one tutoring session, but Escobar said that has been eliminated for now.

“I wish we could provide one-on-one tutoring for everyone,” she said. “But the truth is, we don’t have that kind of money.”

According to Eduardo Aguirre, a math spot tutor and electrical engineering major, the budget cuts are also causing longer wait times during peak hours for students to receive tutoring compared to the previous fall semester.

“We are just stretched out really thin,” Aguirre said.

One solution for students seeking help in math is to stop by the Math Spot during the off-peak hours. This is usually early in the day, from 7:30 to 9 a.m., and in the afternoon from 2 p.m. until it closes at 7 p.m.

“I signed in and immediately got helped,” Jason Griner said about his recent trip to the Math Spot. “They have a little card that you flip over if you need help, so I flipped it over, and there was a guy that was right in front of me that worked out all the problems [with me].”

Despite the budget constraints, the Math Spot has made some recent improvements, adding five new laptops for students to use when accessing Mymathlab.

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