Monday, September 24, 2012

The September meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees: uh-oh, unfunded retiree health benefit liabilities!


     [Update: Be sure to read Tere's Board Meeting Highlights.]
     I just walked in—in the middle of the invocation. So I missed the "read out" of actions during closed session.
     [For what it's worth, Tere reports that the board approved "A Police Officers Association Master Agreement between the District and POA for the July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015." My guess is that that is what was read out.]

     No public comments. Natch.
     Nancy and Co. went straight to trustee reports.

     Bill Jay: yammered a bit about "enrollments." The big issue, evidently. Huh?
     Mike Meldau: no report
     Marcia Milchiker: said something, I dunno. Went to 9-11 ceremony.
     TJ Prendergast: has learned that there are problems with parking at the colleges. Really?
     Nancy Padberg: went to 9-11 ceremony, etc. IVC and SC had dueling ceremonies.
     Jim Wright: went to 9-11 commemoration. Attended guest lecture. Toured the "Library and Learning Resources Center." All the computers were being used. "Wonderful." Attended memorial service for instructor. Looking forward to Homecoming game.
     Dave Lang: attended IVC's 11th annual 9-11 shebang. Attended a UCI event: STEM initiative. U.S. comparison with other nations not good in Science and Math. Went on tour of Library and LRC. Unrest abroad in Libya and elsewhere. We should think about Free Speech vs. blah blah blah. Hate speech, blah blah blah. Dunno what that was about. Is there hate speech afoot? How about betrayal, Bean Boy?
     Student trustee Park: spoke about Club Day, etc.

     Chancellor's Report (Gary Poertner): Thanks to faculty for presentations re student success, etc. Extremely important work being done to promote student success.

     Board requests for reports: Lang has a request—evidently on agenda. Passes unanimously.

     Discussion item: 4.2, "College Completion Agenda"

     Bob Cosgrove of Saddleback College: mentions 4 presenters. Making connections with middle schools and high schools to make students better prepared for college writing. And also the link to universities.
     Kathy Schmeidler: introduces Brenda Borron and Dean Karima Feldhus and a Jonathan Alexander (of UCI).

     SADDLEBACK: Two Saddleback gals (Dawn Lewis and Renee Bangerter) come up and talk up this and that. I think that one of 'em said that 70-90% of students come to colleges unprepared re math and writing. Good grief. Sounds about right though. These gals are pretty chirpy.
     Projected on the screen: EPLC Projects. Created tutorials, etc. Created a "rubric" and went out to "norm" faculty. Got high school faculty up to speed. Then our funding was cut. Turned to an outside vendor. Averted disaster. Focused on Common Core Standards, etc. They're "thrilled" with progress, reception. We wanted to reach out to High School teachers locally. But then this thing went national. Something about "turnitin" online. They showed us the "rubrics." I gather that the work that this local group did went national somehow. A big deal.
     "It's been very humbling" to learn what students need to successfully transfer to college courses, etc.--said the one gal who teaches High School I guess.

     IRVINE VALLEY: Next: the IVC crew. Dean Feldhus speaks. Joining her, Jonathan Alexander (UCI) and Brenda Borron (IVC): We're very impressed with what Saddleback is doing. Won't repeat that info. Brenda and Jonathan presented here previously; won't repeat all that. Will focus on feedback re our collaborative session(s). Thanks to Brenda's work, we've been way ahead of the curve. Refers to the CA Task Force's recommendation concerning outreach, etc. with local schools. The comments we've heard from those involved in these discussions (collaboration between the segments) have been very positive. No finger-pointing. They read testimonials.
     Gosh, it's almost a TV commercial.
     Dean Feldhus reads comments from high school participants, etc. These seemed less impressive, albeit appreciative. "Much more solid than I anticipated," said someone.
     More testimonials, comments, of participants. High school instructors drew attention to the "huge numbers" of students they must teach. Too little time, etc. Sounds pretty grim at K-12.
     It does appear that this collaborative session they are describing was precisely the sort of thing the Task Force had in mind.
     Alexander noted that this is lots of "talk." How do we assess all this activity? They'll make an effort to see if anything is changing in the high school classrooms. We'll get back to you within a year.
     It is important for students and faculty to understand what sort of writing will be expected of students when they get to college.
     Alexander: working with "your faculty" (IVC, Saddleback) is best experience I've ever had (he's been involved in these efforts for many years). Sounds good.

     NEXT DISCUSSION ITEM: 4.1 District-wide Strategic Plan

     Didn't catch this woman's name [Denice Inciong], but she is familiar. She's presenting the "annual report" re district-wide strategic plan. Six major goals, 14 objectives, etc. 76 "action-steps." Good Lord.
   
     GOAL 1: District-wide culture, mutual respect, etc. Identified 5 top barriers to cooperation. Will focus on addressing these "barriers."
     GOAL 2: student preparedness, yada yada. Innovations....
     GOAL 3: maintaining techno leadership, etc. Loves the word "utilized." Uh-oh.
     GOAL 4: integrated district-wide planning....
     GOAL 5: using data. More "utilizing." Sheesh.
     GOAL 6: assess ed needs of the communities.... This concerns ATEP.

     This woman seemed to do a good job, despite her embrace of that awful word "utilize."

     Next discussion item: 4.3: Accreditation report.

     Saddleback College: Burnett: we've got a draft report. Very proud of our college, our district. Very confident that this will turn out well. Thanks Cosgrove/Bushe. Introduces our "main writer," Claire C-S.

     Irvine Valley College: Roquemore echoes Burnett. Kathy Schmeidler here to answer any questions. In each case, board seemed satisfied. No questions. Moved on.

     4.4: Report on Actuarial Study of Retiree Health Benefit Liabilities. Deb Fitzsimmons comes up for this one.  Discusses an "actuarial study."
   
     Bad News. The gist of this report is that, owing to the longevity and early retirement trends of faculty (combined with fast increase in cost of medical benefits), we've got to cough up another $15 million. A big surprise. (I had lots of notes about this, but my computer took a rare dump. I'm scrambling here to fill in what I lost.)
      [Tere reports as follows:
   Compared to the results of a 2010 valuation, there has been a large increase in the Actuarial Accrued Liability (AAL) and Normal Cost (NC) in the amount of $15,820,942 for retiree health benefits.
   Dr. Debra L. Fitzsimons, Vice Chancellor of Business Services, provided a presentation of the actuarial report, and reviewed implications and funding options for the district. Some factors that affected these variations over the last two years include a huge increase in number of retirees (52 faculty recently retired), number of employees hired, higher costs for retiree medical claims, and PERS and STRS tables which were recently updated. In general, she said, people are retiring earlier and living longer, which also contributes to increased costs. Vice Chancellor Fitzsimons said an experience study will be conducted to verify data used in the actuarial study before the shortfall amount is finalized.]
     They move to the related 6.1: option and recommendations for funding the unfunded retiree health benefit liability.
     The trustees agreed to take a very conservative approach. They want to use Basic Aid monies (something about unrealized property taxes) to borrow $10 million to pay now, blah blah blah. Evidentally, we're going to engage in some examination of data to verify the state's factoids (or some such thing). Then we'll see where we really are unpaid liability-wise.
     But Lang wants to go the conservative route and pay this stuff off, whatever the amount.
     They essentially go with option 5, which involves paying off this liability asap, I think. Very conservative approach. Well, yeah, the board has long been careful that way.
     Fitzsimmons does a great job laying out the problem. (That I seem to want to say this is paradoxical, since I don't think I understood a word she said. You know me and fiscal stuff. My eyes glaze over.)
     Tere's Board Meeting Highlights explains that the board approved "Fully funding the retiree health liability shortfall before the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 2013, in the amount of $15,820,942 in basic aid funding pending further studies and verification of final amount."

     They pull 5.5 from the consent calendar: this is the change in name of the "James B. Utt Library" to the "Library and Learning Resources Center."
     Padberg recommends amending proposed name to include "in memory of Dr. Richard McCullough." Everyone likes this but I think they go forward with accepting the current recommendation (5.5) and will make name change later. Not sure. In any case, Lang and others seemed agreeable to Padberg's "McCullough" idea. Cosgrove chimes in with info that there's a move afoot to name another building after McCullough. Everybody seems on board with honoring McCullough.

     Nobody argued for resurrection of Utt, a fellow whose memory is best left in a dust bin.

     Then they charge through the rest of the agenda. (I've got to catch up here.)

     Gal (Kim McCord) comes up to give presentation on Proposition 30.
     .25% sales tax increase for 4 years.
     Increase personal income tax rates for 7 years (for high income)
     Etc.
     If 30 passes, 1% growth allowed for.
     Obviously, Proposition 30 needs to pass.

     Prendergast: carps about effect of all this belt-tightening on his high school. Huge. It's not good, but it could be worse. "It is what it is," says TJSomeone solemnly repeat this alleged insight. Yep, it is what it is. Heads shake.

     They keep zipping through the agenda.

     Down to reports of groups.

     Saddleback College (Cosgrove): some high schools around here have 45 students per English class. Instructors spread thin. It means an additional burden on community colleges.
     Faculty Association (Jacobs): wearing "yes on 30" button. Praises tonight's presentation on 30. Prop 30 does seem most viable. As basic aid district, we're somewhat insulated. But these cuts will find their way to our doorstep. As it is, some of our students will find it difficult getting into CSU, will pay higher tuition, etc.
     IVC (Schmeidler): echoes Jacobs' sentiments. Will have more students banging on our doors. Highlights cooperation between two colleges. Groups working well together. Very collegial. Very healthy. Reflected in Accred follow-up reports. Padberg: "very good to hear."
     IVC President (Roquemore): focused on cooperation between the two colleges. "We're working together like we never have before."
     Saddleback President (Burnett): ditto about collaboration. SC extremely grieved, passing of Darrel Deiter(?). Sad also about loss of one of our students. Adam Rizoni served in Afganistan. Lots of events. Accred team visiting Nov. 9.
     Bramuci: no report
     Bugay: joke, didn't catch it
     Fitzsimmons: points out--something. Sounded good, whatever it was. 50% calculation mentioned. 51.71% for our district. (By law, at least 50% of expenditure must be for instruction. Mathur let us go in the red in this regard. Remember? There was a huge scramble, huge effort to hire 40 or so faculty all at once.)
     CSEA, classified senate: ...
     etc.

     Padberg: closes with comments about two who we lost recently. Mentions also an IVC student he passed away. I remember that kid; RG used to have 'em in our office.
     Padberg closes this meeting in memory of their lives.

16 comments:

  1. Richard McCullough, not James.

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  2. You're a good man, Roy Bauer.

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  3. Health care costs for retirees is certainly an unfunded liability, but so what? Your district, which is rich as King Croesus in the first place, has probably been paying for retiree health care on a year-by-year basis forever. I suspect the district wants to sock away an enormous pot of money: Now the unfunded liability is covered, and the interest from the same pot of money pays for ongoing costs.

    That's kind of like someone like you or me who realizes that we're gonna need transportation in the future and realizes that it'll cost money. So we decide to save up enough money so the interest from our savings will buy us a Chevy in 2030. That's just plain nuts.

    Another way of looking at this is that accrued sick leave represents an even bigger unfunded liability. But your district hasn't stashed away a big pot of money stashed away somewhere to pay everyone if you all get long-term illnesses all at the same time. Why not? Because the liklihood of that is near zero.

    Districts--and your union--also need to realize that when folks turn 65, they'll be eligible for Medicare. Thy won't need health coverage from the District because they've already paid for their own. Negotiating some supplemental benefits would take care of retirees' needs--and save the district a ton of money.

    Finally, there is NO statutary requirement that community colleges put away money to pay for retiree medical benefits.

    --100 miles down the road

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  4. I am glad some trustee has learned what many of us know - parking is a real problem. It's too easy to make fun of this - but it does affect many of us, especially part-timers who cannot arrive and hour or two before classes in order to find a spot. (IVC). How hard can it be to devote enough spaces to staff?

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  5. RE: Parking at IVC today. Arrived 30 minutes before class - drove around looking for a spot - got aced out of one in front of A-200 - a bright blue PT Crusier (license plate 6GFZ585, IVC staff permit number 7531?) - I paused, ready to congratulate the staff or faculty member on their good luck - but I did not because the extremely young woman who emerged clad in short-short cut-offs and clutching a back pack and notebook didn't really look "staff" or "faculty" to me. I could be wrong though. Maybe we need a dress code. Humpf.

    And what happened to that row of staff parking spots we used to have immediately adjacent to A-400 and the A-200 lot?

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  6. 8:10, I did not "make fun" of the trustee's parking concerns; rather, I made fun (slightly) of a trustee who only just now discovered what has long been obvious to all denizens of the colleges: that we have serious parking problems.

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  7. The young woman in question is a staff person's daughter no doubt. Mom or dad bought two staff parking passes and gave one to the kid. You're not supposed to do that and they make you sign something that says you won't but it's pretty unenforceable. Thought the cops could look up the permit number posted and find out.

    I would like to find out why they removed that extra row of staff parking immediately adjacent to A-400 and the bigger staff lot. That has really aggravated things. And yes the admin types don't notice because they arrive early in the day - not like the majority of staff who arrive later.

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  8. Yes, mid-morning arrival for classes often finds the staff parking full. 10-15-20 minutes driving around, looking for parking.

    Yes, students park in the staff lot with passes given by parents (staff). Police don't enforce because it's too much work. (Why not check out that permit number posted?)

    Why the college can't manage to have enough staff parking spots despite these students scofflaws is beyond me though. Why they don't understand the importance of allowing staff to get to class on time is crazy. Those days when they handout parking passes to visiting reps from the other colleges and universities are the worst.

    Ana again, never a head's up either. Glen can send an college-wide email about liability when renting cars (!) - like the majority of staff are ever going to have the opportunity to do that but never anything about an issue that affects daily life on campus. Ridiculous.

    I don't want to rent a car. I just want to park in a timely manner so I can teach my class. Too much to ask?

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  9. Yes, the abrupt email from Glen about the liability issues regarding car rental was amusing. How many people are affected by that? (psst - and WHO got in the car accident that inspired the email? Somebody dish please.)

    And yes, more staff parking. Come on. Please. I pay for parking in order to do my job - I should be able to find a spot.

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  10. It should be easy enough to note the number on the pass and report it to parking enforcement. Then the passholders can be warned that the pass will be rescinded unless the misuse is addressed.

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  11. This has been going on for years - no one is going to do anything about it. Some of these kids are related to people who should really know better - and few people want to cross them either. Entitlement issues.

    Even so, we clearly need more parking not less.

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  12. I don't think that just saying "it's been going on for years" and "no one will do anything" is the way to look at it.

    There's nothing like a little embarassment to make jerks come around. What are they going to say? My spoiled kid gets to use my pass, nyah-nyah?

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  13. There doesn't seem to be a parking problem on Fridays?

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  14. Take pictures of spoiled little turds parking illegally and post then.

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