May 2015 Advocate – Questioning the District Budget


As tax revenues increase & more managers are hired, colleges are cutting classes

What’s up with our District budget? Since we became a “Basic Aid” district in 2011-12, our District revenues have been consistently increasing each year due to our being primarily funded by local property taxes, which have been on the rise at an annual rate of around 6% over the last several years. In the last few months, however, Executive Vice Chancellor Kathy Blackwood has presented surprising budget projections showing deficits within two or three years and these projections have led to cuts in class sections from the summer session and fall schedules (i.e. part-time faculty reductions) and to not replacing some full-time faculty and staff positions.

Increasing numbers of directors, managers, coordinators

The AFT and many faculty and staff have questions about how we can be facing budget deficits and cut-backs with such strong revenues. One trend that many have noticed in the last several years has been the significant increase in hiring of new higher-level classified manager-type positions. From 2011 to 2014, for example, the District has added 5 new directors/project directors, 11 new coordinators (e.g. Program Services and Project Coordinators), 3 new Assistant Project Directors, 2 new Planning & Research Analysts, 2 new Retention Specialists, and a new Program Manager.  It appears that there have been numerous new program services coordinators hired to assist Deans at all of the colleges. Meanwhile, three new Deans of Academic Support & Learning Technologies, three new Vice-Presidents of Administrative Services and numerous positions in International Student programs have been added. These new positions reflect a common trend in higher education nationally to significantly increase the number of administrative and support positions in relation to the number of faculty positions.

Funding no longer based on enrollment

The growth of non-faculty positions since we first became a Basic Aid district also appears to be related to the fact that our funding is no longer based on FTES, so increasing enrollment no longer needs to be a central goal of our colleges. With no more linking of funding to enrollment, there is no longer the same motivation to emphasize hiring at the classroom level, but rather programs away from the classroom can become a greater focus.  Certainly, the addition of new programs that support students outside the classroom have shown important promise in increasing student success, but decisions about this shift in emphasis do not appear to have been fully acknowledged and discussed through a participatory governance process at the colleges.

We need to remain faculty-focused

We need some more explanations for why classes are cut and faculty positions are not replaced when our District revenues continue to increase. Our colleges’ priorities and budget decisions need to remain focused on the classroom and on faculty needs. The AFT will continue to try to get answers to questions about District hiring and budget priorities. We are also interested to hear from faculty on your experiences and views on these issues.  Please let us know what you are seeing in your departments and divisions. Do you feel that our colleges are moving in the right direction?