Friday, October 5, 2012

Budget crises looming for Saddleback and Irvine Valley colleges

     At yesterday’s meeting of the IVC Academic Senate, the senate VP, Bob U, reported on a meeting of the college’s strategic planning/budget committee that he had recently attended. At that meeting, he said, essentially, committee members were informed of a fiscal emergency. Via Powerpoint, various possible budgetary scenarios were presented, plotting expected revenue against expected expenses in the coming years. Bob showed us the slides.
     It was mighty grim. The passage of Proposition 30, albeit important, will make little difference to the situation.
     Essentially, the problem is that college revenue will be flat but college expenses will rise, in part owing to unfunded mandates. As things now stand, starting in a year or two, expenses will exceed revenue, and the problem will worsen with each passing year in all possible scenarios.
     This is so despite the SOCCCD’s unusual and lucrative funding arrangement—the oddly termed "basic aid"—which takes local property taxes (rather than state funds) and that, owing to high local property values, has provided the district with an unusually high level of funding compared to virtually all other community college districts in the state.
     The upshot: unless we take steps, we’ll soon be into deficit spending.
     Just how dire is this situation in which we find ourselves?, I asked.
     "Very," said Bob, based on what he saw at the aforementioned meeting.
     Naturally, many colleges across the state—those whose funding source is Sacramento—have already experienced serious budget shortfalls combined with increased expenses. We asked: what have those colleges done to meet their budgetary crises?
     In the case of community colleges, a vast majority of revenue—well over 90%—goes to faculty salaries and benefits. Insofar as that expenditure remains untouched (faculty salaries and benefits are a product of negotiations between districts and faculty unions), our colleges are left with a relatively small zone for cost savings or greater efficiencies.
     It is clear that two groups will likely take a big hit: classified employees (non-instructional, non-administrative) and part-time instructors, the slave labor of the community college system. Some institutions have essentially let go all of their adjuncts.
     I asked whether Saddleback College faces similar dire straights.
     It does. (The president of the SC academic senate was in the room, joining the discussion.)
     I noted that, as someone who attends virtually all meetings of the SOCCCD board of trustees, I could not recall any mention of this looming crisis before the trustees.
     Well, no, they have not been informed, I was told. The problem has until now been a topic of discussion among college administrators.
     So, there it is. Predictably, we (i.e., faculty) were encouraged to help develop ways to increase revenue and reduce costs. If the colleges don't find ways of doing this by themselves, we were told, relatively crude and unwelcome measures will be applied from without.

* * *

     As it happens, yesterday, the senate discussed the Academic Affairs Committee’s recommendation to increase the cap on individual “staff development funds” per full-time instructor to $1500 (from last year’s $1400) and to lower the cap on such funds per part-time instructor to $500 (from last year's $700).
     These funds, from an account comprising a little over $60K, are typically used to pay for expenses associated with attending conferences (meetings of the American Historical Association—that sort of thing), a routine activity among many serious college educators.
     I and other senators opined that, especially under the circumstances, it would be unseemly to reduce part-timers’ conference funding.
     In the end, the recommendation was soundly rejected, returning us to last year's caps. (This, I think, is the best that we could do. I do not believe there was any prospect of overturning the customary wide discrepancy between full- and part-time funding.)
     To adjuncts, that will provide little comfort, I’m sure.
     But it’s something.
     Everybody, fasten your seat belts. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

22 comments:

  1. I don't get it - why doesn't the board know?

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  2. What about the reserves?

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  3. The SOCCCD board has long insisted on funding the two colleges as though they were on state apportionment.

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  4. Well, why not cut faculty salaries, eliminate bloated administrative overhead along with superfluous and outdated programs?

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  5. Why not cut bloated Admin. salaries immediately? A good start, how much do your Prez & VP make?

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  6. My senators haven't told us anything about this. Shit. Fan.

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  7. Did we just sit through HOURS and DAYS of ENDLESS meetings during flex week - why wasn't this mentioned?

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  8. Maybe it's not as bad a all that...

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  9. Oh, it's bad all right.

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  10. Where were all of you two weeks ago? This information was discussed at both campus wide Open Forum meetings. If people are too "busy" to go, then don't complain that the information was not discussed. If you had been there you could have even asked questions....just sayin.....

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  11. What percentage of revenues go into the class?
    You can find that on CCF311 it can not go below 50% . That is the 50% law!
    Most colleges operate around 50.01%
    The administrative bloat can be found there.
    As a taxpayer I want to see my tax $$$ spent in the classroom.
    Please look up this number and report it. I think both the taxpayers and teachers can find common ground on this issue.
    Thank you

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  12. Hmm, where WAS I two week ago at the open forums?...hmm..teaching in the morning...teaching in the afternoon...hmmm...should have cancelled classes I guess. Glen, should I cancel my classes so I can attend your Open Forum? Craig, I can ditch my students so I attend your Open Forum?

    I would expect information this dire to have been announced at a time when more staff could be present - like, say FLEX week. But maybe they didn't know this 6 weeks ago?

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  13. The email sent from Glen on Tuesday with a report about the Open Forum included this paragraph:·

    "LONG-TERM BUDGET PROJECTIONS
    During Thursday’s discussion, as the potential long-term budget projections and planning for solution scenarios were discussed at the College Council, the best and worst case scenarios were shared with the audience. The best case scenario of $230 thousand in cuts for 2013-2014 was presented as scenario one and $1.9 million in cuts for 2013-2014 was presented as the worst case scenario. President Roquemore indicated that these projections and scenarios would be thoroughly discussed in college committees, such as SPOBDC and by governance groups in the coming weeks. "

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  14. Thanks 1:32pm for pointing out to 1:29pm that in addition to the forums, a campus wide email was sent out with the information. Evidently 1:29 is too busy to also read emails. I am tired of those who complain there is no communication, yet do not avail themselves to what is right in front of them. Hey 1:29 life on campus exists outside your classroom...get a grip!

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  15. Poor 1:29pm locked in his (or her) world of academia where nothing else matters as the world goes on around them and they can't be bothered until something jolts them like a taser, then they want to blame everyone cuz they didn't know what was going on.

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  16. I think 1:29 is, after all doing his or her job and may even be (gasp) an adjunct faculty member doing his or her job at multiple campuses.

    I think the point about poor communication is still pretty valid though. As is the point about holding meetings or forums during peak teaching times. Some people may think nothing of cancelling classes to attend a meeting but most of us find it problematic. It's different for staff or administrators. faculty are less flexible in terms of availability.

    Yes, I am glad that the report was made in the senate meeting and made the blog's newsfeed but I am also surprised that it wasn't mentioned during FLEX week.

    I also find 2:23's vision of 1:29 "locked in his )or her) world of academia" pretty laughable. Have you been on the IVC campus lately? Not really a locked ivory tower.

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  17. That IS pretty funny - "locked in the world of academia" HA HA HA.

    Back to grading papers.

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  18. The district has the money, but it restricts the amount of money allocated to the colleges.

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  19. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! Oh wait, here at IVC we are in heaven, so the sky falling doesn't hurt us. What else have you got?

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  20. Why have they not told us about this? I do not use email.

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  21. Didn't they just give managers a huge 20% bump in pay? Managers already made 2 to 3 times the salary of the average worker before the increase. What the hell were they thinking? I think they ought to walk it back, don't you?

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