Monday, June 23, 2014

June board meeting: pledge sans flag (or "Night of the Kumquat")

Where's the flag?
     Yes, it's 6:00 p.m. and I'm sitting here waiting for the start of the June meeting of the SOCCCD BOT. Looks like they're about to start. [Please see Tere's Board Meeting Highlights for her overview.]
     The room seems unusually full for summer. Don't see many green (faculty union) shirts either—maybe two or three of 'em, way in back.
     Marcia, Gary, and Tim are huddling about something. Meanwhile, there' a cute little girl sitting in the front row next to the CSEA guy (I think). Cute as a button. She's already writing "notes."
     Trustees Nancy Padberg and James Wright are absent, it seems. It's a skeleton crew tonight. Will it be a skeleton meeting?
     It's getting quiet. Maybe they'll start:

The original "pledge"—understandably
changed in '42
     6:05 — It begins. First, a report out from closed session: one action: 5/0 vote, approved 7 day time off with benefits to classified employee.
     Invocation: Tim Jemal briefly reflects on recent commencements, etc.
     Pledge: they seek to pledge to the flag but can't find the flag. Really. They turn completely around, hand on heart, seeking some stars and bars to pledge to. None found. Eventually, board Prez Prendergast notes that, just outside on the street, in that turning circle, there's a flag pole and flag. [True.]
     OK, so they direct their pledge to that. "I pledge allegiance...."
     Lots of meta levels here tonight, folks.
Two contentious elements of the “Initial Proposal to Amend and Modify the SOCCCD Academic Employee Master Agreement” (April 28, 2014)
  • Schedule Counselors according to the needs of the Students: Establish the ability to shift counselor calendars to meet changes in the demand for their services for students.
  • Establish a two-tier benefit plans with different options to reduce overall cost of benefits.
Public comments:
The lady doth protest too much
     Faculty member, Doug Barr, Saddleback counselor. Here to speak about contract proposal. Wants to address "counselors as teachers." Goes on (and on) about his background. He's building up to something, I know not what (but he is wearing a green shirt). Believes in counseling across the college. Has long sensed that some faculty have seen counselors as non-faculty. "We are all about student success," he insists. The way this is coming across [the district's proposed contract, I suppose—which, I gather, screws with counselors in particular]—is not in support of student success. We have a complex, diversified student population. Blah blah blah.
     Prendergast interrupts: two minutes up. Sorry (he says), forgot to mention the 2 minutes earlier.
     So the 2nd speaker, Margot L, states she'll give 'im her time.
     I do wish Doug would get to his point. He holds up a kumquat. It's very misunderstood, he says. On he goes about that kumquat. [Good Lord, I think he's used up his second two minutes, yammering about that kumquat!] Some don't realize that counselors teach! It's like the skin of the kumquat....(I don't get it) We counsel one on one. We teach classes. "They incredibly make a  difference," these counselors. He's going to give trustees some kumquats. If you are repelled by idea of counselors teaching, have a second kumquat, he says. (I dunno what he's talking about.) Counselors as teachers are incredibly valuable, he says. Creating personal relationships, that's the thing we do. Prendergast tries to shut him up, since Doug is way over his time. But he keeps going. Walks over to the dais to hand out kumquat kits or something from a crummy cardboard box that says "In-'n-Out" on it.
Flag theft!
     He's still going. Something about a sample assignment. I still don't know what his point is, though I'm sure it's kumquatular. Now he's looking for more people in the first row that he can give kumquats to. He knocks over a microphone. A kumquat rolls across the floor. He's still going. [A smattering of applause.]
     Prendergast: we've established a dangerous precedent (letting kumquat boy go on like that). Should stick to 2 minutes. Margot L comes up and insists on making a comment (she had ceded her time to Herr Kumquat). I forgot to listen to her. I'm pretty sure she dropped the kumquat theme.
     Next speaker: Amira Brown, IVC student. Apparently, she won some sort of student election, but she was robbed, owing to some irregularity, and so vote-getter 2 won the office (president?). (Some kind of Al Gore situation, I gather.) Urges prompt investigation. She has exhausted all resources. Nobody--not P, VP, et al.--will address her grievance. The injustice!
     Another student: wants to elaborate. It was an unfair election. Evidently, there was supposed to be a pre-elections committee, but they didn't form. The rules werent followed in various ways.
     Marietta Brown: wants to support her daughter, Amira Brown. Also attended IVC. Went on to get MA at Pepperdine. My daughter will fight hard to have her voice heard, she says. Has exhausted all avenues at college level. Male candidate was listened to, but not my daughter, she says. Unethical, unconstitutional IVC election. Her daughter's voice has not been heard.
     Gretchia Beron? -- not present, I guess.
     That's it for public comments.

Fac. union message: the kumquat is a misunderstood fruit
     Tod Burnet steps up. Thrilled and honored to do special commendation to Brooke Sauter [applause] Senior Adm assistant - classified employee of the year, California community colleges(?) She bows grandly (and ironically). Daily assists veterans, students. Her commitment to them, etc.

     Glenn Roquemore steps up. "What is this all about?" Good question. Thanks staff members, especially first responders, re their handling of June 3 fire/water main break. "An amazing, quick response." Saved our beloved PAC from terrible and unimaginable damage done, he says.
     8 people step up to stand near Rocky and his podium. Roquemore reads each name, waits for applause. On it goes. Photo op. More applause.

Board reports:

     Bill Jay: you witnessed praise, etc., we give to various segments of the college. We hope we've included everybody. If not, let us know. (Yeah, because we're all children, and all we really want is a pat on the head plus a guaranteed parking spot.)
     Tim Jemal: mentions Ohio and kumquats, a reference to the first public speaker and kumquat enthusiast. Attended commencement ceremonies. Thanks everyone. Attended interesting forum, OC business counsel, future of higher education. Reps from various segments. Serious issues discussed, unity between three systems included. Recent issue: BA in nursing here at SC. Couldn't come to agreement about that. Had healthy discussion.
     Marcia Milchiker: announced that Emeritus Institute, next year, will continue as it has. For many students, it's their lifeline. The "Comprehensive" CC District is safe for now. Attended the two commencements, as always. Thanks those responsible for commencements. A wonderful "evening." KSBR birthday bash, board retreat, etc.
     TJ Prendergast: reiterates comments about commencements. Praises the weather. The weather says nothing. "Nice to be a part of commencement," he says. Faint praise? Draws attention to budget at state, which passed, good for CCs. Happy that promises are being kept.
     Dave Lang: acknowledges "terrific" commencements. Especially wants to thank our two college Presidents. "Fine jobs you did." Recent board self-evaluation at country club. We miss Trustee Padberg. Looks forward to her return when her health permits. Etc.
     Student trustee. Commends staff members who caught the fire (flood? I should get a hearing aid) (at IVC). Proud of them. Working with UCI, will be there tomorrow.

Poertner: nuttin' to say
Chancellor's Report: No comments tonight

College Presidents:

     Burnett [SC]: the usual blather. Asks Audra Bedova (?) to stand up owing to contributions to commencement. Applause. Yammers about carreer pathways grant. College is busy preparing for Fall. Have a happy summer. He's off to vacation.

     Roquemore [IVC]: one topic: Ruth Higgins was there to help in our time of need. Students are being paid on time, financial aid. Borrowed her from SC. Things were piled up at IVC. She came up and fixed it. Roquemore seems to be reading. [I don't get it. Over and over, Roquemore refers to things that are fucked up at IVC--and perhaps finally getting addressed or fixed. Why is he still the President? Why was he granted a new contract? What's wrong with this board?] On he goes. Ruth stands up, receives applause.

     Student government: blah blah blah

     Advancing items 6.1 and 6.2 (environmental analysis check list, ATEP). This is about a property switcheroo at ATEP in Tustin. (See presentation.)
     Fitzsimmons and Peebles come up. Real estate transaction, Valencia parcel, 4.3 acres
     Peebles: shows slide of ATEP site. Fumbles with mouse. 4.3 acre parcel
     Shows another strip of land: .57 acre. Can't really be used.
     Fitzsimmons: district would sublease. Convey to city. Two parcels. Removed from def. of district property. Blah blah blah.
     Unanimous Yes vote, both items

Consent calendar: any pulls? Nope. Unanimous yes.

6.3: tentative budget FY 2014-2015
     Deb Fitzsimmons. Board philosophy: financial strength and stability. Maximize ed opportunites, etc.
     Goes over budget development guidelines. Reserve: no less than 7.5%, etc. Basic aid: excess revenue, one-time uses only. Etc.
     Total funds: $636.6 million. (Whoa! 2/3 of a billion)
     Blah blah blah. (I tuned out for a bit.)
     Mentions that income not keeping up with increased expenses. PERS/STRS Rate and cost increases. Big trend.
     Salaries, benefits. 11.6% increase.  Benefits: 51% increase. Really significant. That's following the national trend. Meanwhile, our income will not increase accordingly.
     Looking ahead: "Lost purchasing power of 15% from lost state COLAs...."
     Any questions?

Skeleton crew
     Jemal: personnel costs, 86%. That's districtwide number. How does it break out per unit? Looks at exhibit A. Three charts, page 15. Any concern? (I didn't understand answer.) Q: Rate increases, PERS, anything we can do about that? A: Nope.
     Lang: a question about credit cards. Discrepancy between two sheets about basic aid. A: Credit card processing fees, student pay online. Lang: we're acting like collection agency for credit card companies? Nope/sorta. Lang seemed satisfied with details, which I can't explain here (didn't understand). Lang is very interested in this credit card expense. A: we pay fees to credit card companies; students don't pay. Lang: "Oh." Fitz: not a student cost, a cost to the district.
     Vote: unanimous. [Fitz adds:] thanks Davit and Carol for their work. "They do an excellent job."
     6.4: tentative student government budgets.
     Saddleback College: Student President speaks. Presents tentative ASG budget. Very excited.
     She's pretty smooth, polished. Budgets for 13-14 and 14-15 are same: $476K. New Gaucho Stamp revenue.
     Campus life allocation up by 20K. Etc. Blah blah blah.
     This little gal is pretty good. Good job. Great hoop earrings too.
     Questions? None.

     Irvine Valley college: student reps speak (after brief comment by Dennis Gordon).
     This kid (prez?) not so smooth. Kid goes over process: point, point, point. Pretty dry.
     Not bad though, really.
     Student treasurer speaks. He presents better. 13-14 budget $526. 14-15: $525K. So stays pretty flat.
     Blah blah blah.

     Lang: what will drive $40K increase in revenue? Dennis G explains increase in bookstore revenue. $35K increase so far this year." So looks good.
     Vote: unanimous.

     Item 6.5. Cosmetology and Cosmetician.... Unanimous.
     Item 6.6. Computer equipment.... Jemal: districtwide? Per college? A: districtwide. Switched from Dell to HP. Better machines, lower price. Unanimous.
     Item 6.7. Software/Neudesic. Vote: unanimous
     Item 6.8. Blackboard, etc. Prendergast: still considered standard? Well, has largest market share. Vote: unanimous.
     Item 6.9. Board Policy revisions. Cellphones allowance, etc. Jemal: asks about allowance. Fitz: policy is being revised, clear distinction between policy, regs. Regs revised too. Reflects increased stipend. From $64 to $75. Etc. Blah blah blah. Vote: unanimous
     Item 6.10. Classified employee layoff res. Reduction of hours in one position. Vote: unanimous.
     Item 6.11. Full-time faculty hiring amendment. Vote: unanimous.
     Item 6.12. Liebert Cassidy Whitmore, revised fee schedule. Vote: unanimous
     Item 6.13. Ac Personnel Actions. Vote: unanimous
     Item 6.14. Classified Personnel Actions. Some changes, explained by Bugay. Vote: unanimous
     7.2 Mission statements

Nothing said about any of this.

Constituency groups reports:

Blah, blah, blah.

I'm outa here.

How about my kumquats!?


Anonymous said...

I like kumquats.

Anonymous said...

What is the history of the counselors feeling like they will lose faculty status? Is there talk at the state level or are other community colleges making this change?

Roy Bauer said...

I'm not sure, but I think the district's contract proposal involved treating counselor schedules as distinct from regular faculty schedules. I think that's what the hubbub was about. But, yes, there is some talk around the state about reclassifying counselors, though I don't know how serious it is. Obviously, there's always a certain amount of grumbling among non-counselor faculty about the counselors. At IVC, they have a reputation for counseling students to avoid difficult classes, taking short cuts, that sort of thing. Some feel strongly that regular faculty and counselors sometimes work at cross purposes.

Anonymous said...

At IVC in the ' 80's counselors were classified employees.

Anonymous said...

Roy, why are you distinguishing between counselors are "regular" faculty. I assume by regular you mean instructional or classroom faculty. Counselors are faculty, period. And yes, the issue has to do with a proposal by the district to change the schedule of counselors so they do not work during the regularly contracted year (fall/spring terms). This is what Doug was addressing in his comments. This would make it difficult for counselors to continue to teach as part of their load. It would also hurt students by having less counselors available for them to see during the school year.

Roy Bauer said...

I am distinguishing between them because Doug and others distinguish between them, noting that non-counselor faculty sometimes have particular attitudes toward counselors that are arguably unfortunate. Naturally, I am aware that counselors teach. I am also aware that, to many faculty, counselors should not teach (for a variety of reasons I won't go into here).
If you were a more careful reader, 9:53, you'd know that I do not endorse (nor do I reject) the attitudes to which Doug refers. Not here, anyway.

Anonymous said...

I was at the meeting....If Doug was attempting to get that message across, he failed....miserably. He may be a great counselor, but he never stayed on message and his whole point was lost on the board and the audience.

Anonymous said...

What was the message then that Doug was trying to get across? As faculty, I think it's important to understand what our colleagues want....while they have very different academic training than other faculty and while this is not the way that universities approach counseling (but seems to link us more with the K12 system), I am interested in their argument. I would think its important that they recognize their areas of expertise and stick with counseling courses however (ie not try to teach courses outside their fields of expertise in order to keep their faculty status.). I would think that would work against them in gaining support of other faculty....

Roy Bauer said...

My account of Doug's presentation unmistakably suggests that it was pretty unsuccessful. If he had a point (beyond reference to allegedly problematic attitudes toward counselors), I don't know what it was.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps Doug did not make his point clearly, but he was certainly not trying to say that counselors should teach other classes outside of counseling. His point, however poorly made, was simply that if the counselors were put on a different calendar they would not be able to teach counseling courses as their working schedule might not fit into one of the regularly scheduled semesters.

Anonymous said...

But this may not be the point Doug was making, but as of now, the counselors already are trying to hold on to teaching courses that are not actually counseling....(there was an attempt at trying to teach a psychology course and then of course their hold on teaching women's studies as was reported on DtB awhile back). This is something people need to be paying attention to because it is not in the best interest of students but rather the counselors' status.

Anonymous said...

is that part of the women's rear entry program?

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