Nov. 2018 Advocate: Spending on faculty down
Spending on faculty down, but more funding needed to improve faculty conditions
By Steven Lehigh, CSM Chapter Chair & Dist. Budget Committee Rep.
The District budget for 2018-19 continues to move in a positive direction, with property tax growth at 8%. As a community-supported district, our revenues are currently 57% above the state revenue limit. The direct impact to faculty has been the increase of salaries, as well as covering the District’s portion of the rising STRS contribution. Around the District this has led to increased spending on the Promise Program, equity projects, Innovation Grants etc., as well as more under-the-radar budget obligations like the retiree benefits trust, which is essentially fully funded at the moment.
That being said, there still is a sizable chunk of the budget that continually comes in below the projection, leaving room for discussion on how to best allocate those funds. For more information on how the District budget has changed since it switched to being community-supported, see “District’s Fund 1 has $50M surplus over four years” in the May 2017 Advocate and “As District revenues continue to increase under Basic Aid, faculty percentages decline while administrators increase” in the February 2016 Advocate.
% of revenue spent on faculty salaries has gone down from 39% in 2011-12 to 33% in 2017-18
While I do not have the specifics of all the positions that have been created, it is clear that spending on faculty has become a smaller portion of the pie. While there are various ways to measure this change, one way to illustrate it is that the proportion of revenue spent on certificated salaries has gone down from 39% in 2011-12 to 33% in 2017-18. The District argues that if load has stayed relatively constant (or declined) that there is not a pressing need to allocate extra funds to hiring.
More funding needed to improve faculty conditions in many areas
There are a host of areas, however, where more funds are needed to support and improve the conditions of full-time and part-time faculty. Those areas include addressing the increasing amount of faculty duties outside the classroom, such as SLO assessments, program review, tenure review and hiring committees, and accreditation work, among many more activities. AFT and Senate leaders are constantly hearing from faculty throughout the District who are feeling the stresses of excessive workload. In addition, rising health care costs are taking bigger chunks out of faculty salaries. It is also very important to recognize the value of having a larger share of full-time faculty members and narrowing the gap between full-time and part-time faculty compensation.
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 and determine how we allocate our resources. We need to hear from faculty to help us quantify and articulate issues they may have that are not adequately measured by load.