Some students returning to Columbia College for spring semester Monday got an unpleasant surprise when they learned classed they had signed up for were canceled.

The cuts come after Gov. Gray Davis announced a state deficit of $35 billion dollars. Schools from kindergarten through University of California are having to reduce spending in anticipation of final budget cuts, which should be approved this month.

"Hopefully, it won't be too big a surprise," Columbia College President Jim Riggs said. "We've tried to call everybody."

Riggs said some of the classes that were under the knife were changed to community education classes, which are self-supporting and are not limited to Columbia College students.

Enrollment at the college is up, but classes are down.

"(The budget cuts) come at a real bad time," Riggs said. "Last semester, (enrollment) was up about 8 percent. This semester, because we've had to cut so much, it's more like 3 or 4 percent.

"We have wait lists that are quite long in some courses."

Classes with fewer than 15 students enrolled got the ax, fouling up schedules and sending students back to the course catalog in an effort to fill unexpected gaps in their schedules.

Chaz Danielson, 20, of Douglas Flat, was one of the students faced with two canceled classes Monday morning: computer science 24 and computer science 40.

"It screwed up my perfect schedule," he said. "They might offer them next semester, but it kind of throws a wrench into things."

Meanwhile, another student was going around campus asking people to enroll in a speech class that was on the block for lack of seven more students.

Danielson said he would like to help, but had already taken speech last semester.

He wasn't having much luck with the course catalog, either.

"All the other classes are at the same time as my classes that didn't get canceled," he said.

Melanie Presson, 21, of Copperopolis commiserated. Presson fretted about her Tuesday piano class, the fate of which she will learn today.