Feb. 2016 Advocate: District revenues up, faculty % down
As District revenues continue to increase under Basic Aid, faculty percentages decline while administrators increase
By Steven Lehigh, CSM, Economics, AFT Representative on the District Committee on Budget and Finance (DCBF)
As many of us are aware from the salary adjustments that were made last summer, property taxes in San Mateo County have been steadily increasing. There was a 7.7% increase for this academic year and approximately a 5% increase so far for next year. Here’s a look at the year over year revenue numbers (rounded and in millions):
There are two additional major increases to the budget. The first is from an increase in nonresident student tuition and the second is a one-time $10 million payout we received from the state for mandated cost reimbursements (accounted for in the “other” category.)
As most of you are aware, our basic aid status has had a positive and stabilizing effect on the budget. For this year, we are $35 million above where we would be otherwise. All in all, our budget is in a good state.
With all this positive news, what issues should we be aware of? One issue straight away is the increasing district contributions to STRS and PERS. The rates are expected to rise to approximately 19% and 20% respectively by 2020/21. For reference, they were at 8.25% and 11.4% last year, so this represents a fairly significant increase over the next few years.
Faculty % of budget shrinks; admins’ % rises
We also need to look more closely at how we are spending the additional revenue. Given the current environment of declining enrollment and increasing revenue, district spending on non-faculty positions is increasing more rapidly than spending on faculty (see table below.)
% Increase in Spending by Employee Classification* from 2012-13 to 2015-16
While I do not have the specifics of all the positions that have been created, expansion seems to be happening in initiatives focused on student success, international students and distance education. There is nothing inherently wrong with this change, the basic argument being that if load stays relatively constant (or even declines) that there is not a pressing need to allocate extra funds to hiring. Thus it is up to faculty to quantify and articulate issues they may have that are not adequately measured by load. Those issues include part-time faculty benefits and compensation for non-teaching activities, rising health care costs, the value of having a larger share of full time faculty members, the increase in duties outside the classroom, SLO assessments, program review and the list goes on. Many of these issues are inherently related to student success and have positive benefits that we are missing out on by simplifying the equation to a previous expectation of what load is appropriate. The issues are obviously complex and nuanced, but we need to make sure that we do more than rely on simple metrics to analyze them.