In a special public meeting held on March 7, the Yuba Community College District Board of Trustees voted to rescind its previous resolution of Feb. 26 to reduce or discontinue “particular kinds of academic service” that would have resulted in the layoff of 17 Full Time Equivalent Academic Employees and 2 FTE Academic Administrators, and would have eliminated the Drafting, Information Technology and Manufacturing Technology instructional programs at the Marysville campus.
“When you eliminate a program, you eliminate the need for the faculty attached to that program,” said Linda Staffero, President of the Yuba College Faculty Association.
A modified version of the resolution was adopted in which only three FTE Academic Employees will receive layoff notices, whose salaries are contracted on a year-to-year basis with the college. These include the One-Stop Instructor and two CalWORKS Counselors at the Marysville campus and are a result of projected state budget cuts to these programs.
The previous resolution affecting classified employees was also rescinded, and a slightly altered version approved in its stead that ultimately contained the same number of FTE layoffs as before. On March 7 the Board approved the layoff of 37.17 FTE Classified Employees and 2 FTE Classified Supervisor Employees.
As of March 15, 25 percent of the Yuba College classified staff received layoff notices. Elizabeth Bowman, President of Chapter 283 of the California Schools Employee Association and Campus Life/Residence Hall Coordinator at Yuba College, said from the 37.17 positions, about 20 staff members have “bumping rights,” which means they will move into other Classified jobs and the employees they displace will receive the layoff notices.
“Our biggest concerns are the needs of the students and the quality of student support services,” said Bowman. “After losing 25 percent of the Classified staff, it’s going to be hard to function in 2003-04. It will be difficult to service students and the community and meet the District’s needs with the same quality.”
Kristi Senger, Public Relations Officer for CSEA Chapter 283 and Public Information Specialist at Yuba College, detailed some of the key positions being eliminated from Classified staff that will affect student services. A small sampling of these positions would include the College Receptionist who staffs the Information Desk, the Distributive Education/Server Specialist who keeps the WebCT running, the Workforce Investment Act Program Specialist who makes the WIA Program possible, the Administrative Secretary who schedules student appointments with the Counseling Department and the Multi-Media Design Specialist whose graphic art designs promote a positive image of the college within the community.
“The question is, who will do the work when these positions are eliminated?” asked Senger. Article 19.1 of the “Agreement Between YCCD and CSEA Chapter 283” stipulates, “Work previously performed by employees who have been laid off may only be performed by Classified Employees or may be performed by Certificated Employees, Confidential Employees, Supervisory or Management Employees when the work tasks are currently present in those District employee’s job description and is routinely a part of the job. Work previously performed by laid off employees shall not be contracted out or performed by Students or Volunteers.”
In order to meet the estimated $9 million reduction in funding from the State of California, the YCCD Board of Trustees approved laying off a total of 42.17 FTE employees. But the lack of discussion by Board members regarding points raised in public testimony about the proposed cuts was one of the biggest concerns expressed by Yuba College students and district employees after the Feb. 26 Board meeting in Woodland.
Following the Feb. 26 meeting, the YCFA went into negotiations with the District, seeking to find alternatives to layoffs and cuts to educational programs. Faculty salaries and benefits constitute 42 percent of the District’s general fund, and the Board of Trustees wished to find a way to make the dollars represented by that 42 percent stretch farther.
Staffero said there were basically three options available to save money and reduce faculty layoffs: create retirement incentives to provide openings in instruction, reduce or share instruction work load and retrain faculty who have certification to teach in alternate programs.
“The District was very willing to talk about retirement incentives, which may save anywhere from $800 thousand to $1 million,” said Staffero. “These savings prevent the elimination of programs and the layoff of faculty, and will allow for faculty hiring for next year.”
Between faculty retirements, reduction or sharing of workloads and faculty shifts to other instructional programs, the Board determined that no instructional layoffs must be made at this time. Staffero said that the District found workloads for everybody whose salary is paid from the District’s general fund. However, the fate of the One-Stop and CalWORKS Counselors will become more clear as the state budget solidifies.
Staffero said the success of the negotiations was “bittersweet because we could have done this differently. It could have been done before the resolutions were passed.”
During the session on March 7, several Board members voiced their concerns about the public’s reaction following the Feb. 26 meeting, but reiterated the difficulty of the budgeting decisions currently facing them. “We are not going to let this district go bankrupt,” said Board President Jim Buchan.