At the Crossing Borders, Building Bridges seminar on Tuesday, October 26 at noon in room 521, students and faculty got a chance to meet the two candidates who ran for a Sutter seat in the Yuba College Board of Trustees.
Before Jim Buchan defeated Dan Cucchi, by obtaining 65.4 percent of the votes to Cucchi’s 34 percent, they spoke to Yuba College students and staff at the Crossing Borders seminar.
Cucchi, who ran against Buchan, is a student himself at San Jose State University. After growing up in the Sutter area, attending YCHS and Yuba College, he got married, earned a bachelor’s in English from Chico State and established a career in real estate.
Now he is attending SJSU full time in order to get his bachelor’s in real estate. He attends SJSU once a week and will be graduating in the spring of 2006.
While at Yuba College, he was in the Chamber Choir and very devoted to the arts and music program. He said, “People do not realize how strong the music program is.”
When the music got cut, it resulted in a decline in enrollment because there is no music program.” Cucchi also was very involved in the 4H club, Little League and coached East Nicholaus High School’s football team.
His opponent, incumbent Jim Buchan, has done much for the community. He works with high school kids and is the secretary of the Every Fifteen Minutes program about drinking and driving. He is also on the Fremont Rideout foundation board and on a substance abuse committee for Colusa, Sutter and Yuba county seventh graders.
He also used to be a teacher himself at Yuba College. When he taught here, he used to run a computer class and helped to build up the computer, science and business departments.
Buchan fondly remembers being a teacher and said, “The best thing about being a teacher is making lives better.” He commented that he had met his current wife on this campus.
“I love Yuba College,” said Buchan, ” I love getting up, organizing my day, and then going on to do it.”
Cucchi claimed that he has a good grasp at what college students are looking for and wanted to be that voice, since he is in college himself, that will better the lives of Yuba College students. He sees that many people just sit back and complain about the problems on campus, but don’t do anything about it.
He feels that once they see the need for change, they should get out there and get involved. Cucchi added, “It bothered me that there was a cut in classes because that resulted in a decline in enrollment.”
Buchan wants to formulate a plan to improve the college campus, which would cost about $2 million, but he believes that he can get the money in four years. He agrees with Cucchi on the point that the money loss has nothing to do with the Woodland campus.
However, Buchan does not know if the money is being redirected to the Woodland campus. Buchan promises to make sure that the money received for the Marysville campus will be fair. As somewhat of an explanation of the money loss, he points out that our campus is a rural college.
On the issue of improving the look of our community campus, both opponents believe that Yuba College needs to be revitalized. Cucchi feels that the college looks dreary and that it needs to be updated and revitalized.
He believes that if the campus looks nicer, people would feel better about it and essentially do better in college. He also feels that if the college looks better, then there would be an increase in enrollment. One of the things that he wanted to do to the campus if elected was to replace all the dead trees with new ones.
Buchan not only wants to make the college campus look better, but he wants to publicize the faculty and show off what a great staff that we have here. His reasoning is that the more we show how great our staff is, the more enticing the college will look to the students and the community.Both believe that the biggest problem in the short term is the decline in enrollment and the lack of full time faculty. Cucchi feels that student enrollment needs to increase drastically. He commented on how the college had to shuffle the summer courses into the fall to reduce state cuts.
He knows that we need more full time faculty to increase the amount of classes that can be taught, which would result in more students being enrollment, thus more money would be given to the college. Buchan said that we need to add more faculty and classes and proposed that he would do that if re-elected. He also believes that we need to add more fine arts and music.
He claims that it is easier to hire part time because they do not have as many considerations as full time; therefore, there is no prolonged debate over salary, benefits and retirement.
However, he did say that if re-elected he will hire more full time faculty for next year, but will do so gradually to be sure that the student load is going to be present. He says that it is based on the availability of money.Currently the YCCD budget shows an 11.43 percent in reserves.
In the 2000/2001 school year, the board assumed that we would have about 5.5 percent in the reserves, but actually had 6.3 percent. In 2001/2002, the assumed amount was once again 5.5 percent, but there really was 8.7 percent. In 2002/2003, the board projected that there would only be 5.58 percent in the reserves, but came out with 10.16 percent.
For this past year of 2003/2004, the amount assumed was 5.03 percent, but 11.43 percent showed up. This shows that there is more money available each year than Yuba College is projecting.
Buchan pointed out that we do need good faculty so that the students could get the best possible education.
This veteran also believes that we need a good administration so that we can have the best people running the college. Finally, he promised to increase communication between teachers and the board.
Cucchi asserted that if he had been on the board, he would not have voted to increase the president’s salary because it sends out a bad message to the faculty.
In December 2003, the Board of Trustees granted Superintendent/President Nikki Harrington an annual salary of $156,598 to be effective January 1, 2004. According to page K-20 of the YCCD 2003-04 Final Budget, President Harrington was earning an annual salary of $140, 785 before the Board decision. This meant that she had earned a $15,813 raise, nine months after the Board of Trustees had lain off 37.17 full-time equivalent classified employees.
He said, “I personally would not have voted for the salary increase.” To Cucchi, it is equivalent to saying, “Sorry that you have to lose 37 people because we have no money, but then a year later, the president’s salary is increased.”
Buchan spoke first for approximately six minutes, and was followed by Cucchi who spoke for approximately 2 minutes. The remainder of the time was used for questions and answers by the audience, composed of faculty, staff and students.