Jason Leskiw

At the public meeting on Tuesday June 12, in Pleasanton, Begoña Cirera of Chabot College spoke to the CLPCCD board of directors and the public that was in attendance with a strong voice.  While her message was simple, the effective mass of her words moved the whole room.

“Today we now know that Governor Jerry Brown took another pay cut, leaving his salary at $165,000.  I speak highly of Chabot College, but when I am asked about funding and budget, I have nothing good to say.  How can I say anything good in that regard when we have a chancellor that makes over $300,000 every year and a vice chancellor that makes over $200,000 every year?”

The room roared with applause as she filled the atmosphere with simple words that have been thought, but hardly heard.   While the final decision of the board that night was to hold off on making any layoffs or a closing of the Child Development Center at Las Positas, the board also needs to look at the salaries of the many administrative staff.

Just scaling back administrative costs five percent could save the district over $100,000, enough to hire extra instructors or buy more than 2300 cases of printer paper.  Assumedly administration within the district would balk at such an action; however it is a basic principle of any workplace.

If an employee of Apple doesn’t fulfill his or her job duties, which at times may be daunting, that employee gets let go or in a best-case, doesn’t get a raise in the following quarter.  If a student doesn’t complete their work on time, on par or earnestly, that student gets a bad grade.  The administration of CLPCCD shouldn’t be exempt from those basic business and accounting principles.

Sure, they could argue that they work long hours and take few vacations, and they would more than likely be telling the truth.  But so do students.  Students at the community college level often work full-time to support their education and many times take six or more units all at the same time.  Some raise families while working towards a degree or certificate, surely that could be as time consuming as balancing a budget, right?

At Tuesday’s budget meeting, Dr. Susan Sperling, Chabot President said “It is our goal to keep cuts as far from students as possible.”  While she may have meant it as a gesture that the district is attempting to protect students, the fact is that the administration is cutting costs that are closest to students.

The students of this area deserve better.  The local businesses of this area deserve to have an offering of educated employees, able to complete more advanced job tasks.  The parents of this area also deserve to see their children grow, learn and accomplish within the walls of higher education.

All of that starts with the leadership of these colleges being accountable for themselves and their responsibilities.

Editors Note:  After the meeting, the Board of Trustees decided to remove the child care discussion from the next meetings docket.

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Jason Leskiw, Features Editor

Pleasanton, Calif.- As members of the Las Positas-Chabot College District Board of Trustees waited, more than one-hundred concerned onlookers filed into a meeting room, in which classified faculty within  the district worried heavily about the outcome.  Minutes before the meeting began, there was a queasy, awkward silence, briefly muffled by a spectator saying “I will have some respect, very little.”

This meeting held multiple purposes, one being the proposed closure of the child development center, but none more pressing than the prospect of classified staff losing their jobs.  Amidst a barrage of budget cuts, groups of faculty and the public initiated a plea to the board for their jobs.  Ultimately, those classified staff will retain their jobs for the time being, while the board of trustees draws up alternate plans for balancing the budget.

The processes of layoffs within the district were explained during the meeting “as some that were not properly funded and some that had no funding whatsoever,” as stated by Lorenzo Legaspi, vice chancellor of business services.

“We have suspended the process of fulfilling positions,” said Dr. Susan Sperling, Chabot President.  “I have had to cut the jobs of some that I know,” she continued.  Sperling also encouraged the people within the room to take their voice to the state capitol during the March in March, an annual protest against budget cuts.

The public voices that were allowed to speak were also heard with great emotion, some speakers bursting into tears as they spoke.   Las Positas faculty member Greg Johns was one of those voices.

“Without (the positions that are being cut) the dean’s administrative assistants will be forced to do two jobs at once and services to faculty, administration and students will greatly suffer,” said Johns as he openly wept.  “The termination of these positions will cause undue hardship for our administrators, faculty, classified staff and students.”

Las Positas College President Kevin Walthers noted a figure of budget cuts that “for us, represents nearly 5 percent of the entire budget.”  Walthers continued to propose alternate cuts that could be made, although he shied away from taking on administrative or cuts of the board members.  “Our students offered to give up 10 percent of their budget.  Students really stepped up and showed leadership,” said Walthers. He went on to speak about cutting the child service center, a part of Las Positas that was opened a mere seven months ago.

Not only were the public speakers emotional regarding the current deficit and cuts to faculty and staff, trustee Arnulfo Cedillo showed emotion when discussing his children, one of whom was recently laid off from James Logan High School in Union City, CA.

“Don’t think for a second that we have no emotion towards these cuts, because we certainly do,” said Cedillo

Another member of the public, Begoña Cirera, was interrupted by applause as she spoke.

“How is it that in a crisis, they have a chancellor that is being paid over $300,000 per year and a vice-chancellor that makes over $200,000?”  Cirera asked, “Today we now know that Gov. Jerry Brown took another pay cut and earns $165,000 per year.”

She was clearly not alone in her sentiment as many other speakers echoed her statements and guest speaker John Brookfield suggested that the administration take pay cuts of anywhere from one percent to five percent.

As the meeting wrapped up, the members of the board gave their final thoughts, one stating that he did not appreciate threats of constituency rallying against them in an upcoming election.  Board member Marshall Mitzman described himself as “a businessman coming from community college” and proposed that the district look outside government to accrue funds.

The final decision of the board was unanimous, to hold off until more proposals to balance the budget could be considered.