In front of a small (perhaps intentionally) audience, the Yuba College Governing Board met on Wednesday, February 3rd at 1:30 p.m. The meeting was held in the Board’s regular meeting room which limited the number of people who could be present or participate in the meeting. The advance interest in the meeting suggests that a relocation of the meeting would have been considered as a prudent necessity for openness and accommodation to the interested parties.
The events of the preceding two weeks and the interest they have generated, brought a number of news media persons from as far away as Chico and Sacramento, in addition to the Appeal Democrat, and our very own Prospector staff members. The media attempted to crowd together – standing – at the ends of the room to allow more persons to be seated in the limited gallery seats available.
Many students, staff, and faculty remained standing in the hallway attempting to hear the proceedings taking place in the room.
Trustee George Nicholau “attended” the meeting via telephone from LaQuinta, CA, pursuant to Govt. Code section 54953. Trustee Ben Pearson was absent from the meeting. Trustees Xavier Tafoya, Brent Hastey, Alan Flory, Leela Rai, and Chairman Jim Buchan, along with Student Stephen Frothingham were present on campus for the “Special Meeting”.
There were two Action Items on the Agenda:
1. “Rescinding of Board Action Regarding Chancellor Compensation”
a. The Board “will consider rescinding the action taken at its January 20, 2010, Board meeting, when the Board extended the Chancellor’s contract and set a new salary.”
2. Appointment of District Negotiator.
The Board did point out that their action to “Rescind” the salary action was because of the “public perception” that they were guilty of “Brown Act violations” and NOT because of any belief that their original action was a mistake or needed to be rescinded. During the Public Comment period and discussions between the audience and the Board, it was evident that the majority of the Board was still of the opinion that the “raise” is “deserved” and “necessary” – even “essential” in the words of one member.
Several speakers were recognized to present the points of view of the students, classified staff, and faculty members. They included, student Jeanie Schumacher, CSEA President Teresa Dorantes-Basile, and YCFA President Lisa Jensen-Martin.
Ms. Schumacher read a statement that echoed the sentiments of many students in the room and hallway outside. She started off by stating “I am nobody and I am all students BUT we are nobody – at least that’s what we are being told.” She asked the board to remember that the students are “protesting” more than just the raise. She observed that “everything” seems to be on the backs of the students for dollar savings – i.e. – cut-backs and/or eliminations of programs and services – summer school, support services, library hours, classes, etc.
Pres. Dorantes-Basile pointed out that, in addition to the furloughs which the classified staff agreed to (equaling about 3% of their salary), the failure to re-hire some faculty members from last year and to replace some retirees, YCCD is possibly facing the proposed lay-off of faculty members this year, additional cut-backs in services to students, and are “at the table asking CSEA for more cuts for 2010/11”. She went on to point out that in these “tough times”, the Board (with Dr. Harrington’s lack of objection or rejection) has opted to “pad her retirement” with this increase in salary. She wrapped up this statement by saying “SHAME ON YOU”.
Pres. Jensen-Martin asked the Board “How and why are you rescinding something that you didn’t do?” Trustee Hastey replied that the Board was rescinding and clearing this off the board “per the attorney”. He admitted that this is one situation where “we could have probably done better”.
Student Trustee Stephen Frothingham pointed out that even the Board voted down their own raise this year. Trustee Hastey responded “I didn’t! I voted for it!” He also stated that Trustee Nicholau “says all the time that we’re family and in this together”.
Dr. Matthews, Music Professor, asked the Board if the FTES (Full Time Equivalent Students) level had been considered when comparing “median pay” for the Chancellor position. “We are a very small district.” Trustee Flory said that he had that information “from the state Chancellor’s office”. When asked by Dr. Mathews, he said “I won’t share it with you after some of the stuff you’ve written.”
Dr. Mathews thanked Trustee Flory for “reading” (his blog). See http://www.ycfa.org/robert_mathews to read what Trustee Flory is referring to.
After additional discussions, the Trustees voted to rescind the pay raise (6-0) and then failed to pass the motion to hire the District attorney as the negotiator for the Chancellor’s contract & salary (3-3) with Trustees Nicholau, Hastey, and Flory voting “NO”. Trustee Hastey requested that this topic be put on the next Agenda to discuss contacting the State Chancellor’s Office for a negotiator and/or direction on who to hire. This will take place at the regular monthly meeting in Woodland on February 10, 2010.
Note: This reporter will be presenting in depth information as a follow-up to the topic of FTES and Chancellor Salary comparisons in my next story.