City College projects 26 percent class cuts

Administration document reveals vision for smaller institution — and assumes that the school can’t recover

After all the protests and all the battles, are we now going to say the ACCJC has won?
After all the protests and all the battles, are we now going to say the ACCJC has won?

By Tim Redmond

OCTOBER 20, 2015 – City College plans to cut 356 faculty positions and eliminate more than a quarter of its classes over the next six years, a document provided to the teachers’ union shows.

The document, presented by management as part of the ongoing contract talks, presents a budget scenario based on the idea that full-time teachers would get a 3.7 percent pay increase – which barely brings them back to pre-recession levels – and just 1 percent a year cost-of-living increases through 2021.

This in a city where housing costs are increasing by more than double digits every few months.

The union, AFT Local 2121, is trying to get its members above zero – that is, to restore the cuts made during the recession and begin bringing salaries into line with the expenses of living in the city.

The union notes that the current budget calls for reserves of between 15 and 20 percent, far above the 5 to 9 percent recommended by the board. The state recommends a reserve of 5 percent.

But the most shocking part of the document is the assumption that the school will shrink radically over the next few years.

There’s no question that the brutal assault on City College by a now-discredited accrediting agency, which may not survive, has damaged the school. Enrollment has dropped; the school is still under the arm of a state Special Trustee, and deans have been forced to eliminate classes with fewer than 15 students.

(When I was in college, schools bragged about a low faculty-student ratio. Some classes are impossible to teach with 20 or more students. But never mind ….)

But what the document says is depressing. It just assumes that things will never get better, that City College will continue as a fraction of its former self, that its vision and future need to be seriously downsized.

I’d hate to think that there’s no other alternative.

City College is going to win the accreditation battle. The political part is almost over – the ACCJC is pretty much done as an institution. The school will gain back full accreditation, and the rogue institution that so badly screwed things up will fold and new, more accountable agency that aims to improve education instead of destroying it will take the ACCJC’s place.

And to me, that means the school ought to be devoting time and resources to rebuilding for the long haul, not to accepting a much-reduced role.

The union has asked that, as part of the contract talks, administration discuss plans to increase enrollment. The faculty want to help. That, however, is off the table right now.

Instead, the document that I have says that by 2020 there will be 365 fewer teachers and 1,836 fewer classes. That’s a 26 percent reduction. But it also assumes revenue will be relatively stable (after the special stability funding expires in 2017).

So there will be 26 percent fewer classes and the same number of students? I don’t get it.

I get that labor negotiations are complicated, and that City College has a lot of difficult choices ahead. But just assuming that the ACCJC has won – that the school will be much smaller and never recover – seems like surrender.

The  union will hold a rally Tuesday morning to call attention to the proposed cuts. Local 2121 says in a statement that it

will not stand by while Special Trustee Guy Lease enacts a death spiral of austerity that eliminates classes, costs the jobs of over a quarter of current faculty, and reduces access to a quality college education for the people of San Francisco.

This ought to be a discussion and decision for the elected board, which is only now taking back its power over the school’s finances. A lot more than one labor contract is at stake – the school’s future is on the line.

  • R Padilla

    I would like to agree with the article, but cannot. It is tainted with faculty storytelling. The commission regardless if it disappears or stays was a wake up a call for Ciry College. It exposed the manner in which leaderships were negligent in conducting business in a non-profit institution.

    The faculty are paying the piper for not working to be a transparent and accountable non-profit institution. Leaderships were negligent in the understanding of sustainability. the Board of Trustees was placed in hiatus, administrators were fired, and faculty are being disingenuous and dishonest by hiding the facts of transactions of the past decade. Faculty are under forfeiture status for their own negligence in not meeting competent reporting requirements. There are unethical behaviors and unmerited past practices amongst faculty leaderships who have created narratives even within this article, this is unfortunate. I would suggest the author give improved analysis and stop the parroting of faculty messages.

    Many faculty are working extremely hard, and it’s the few that that do not professionally develop, who do not volunteer to support the needs of students, it is the few that neglect the maintenance of curriculum, who haven’t volunteered or step foot at a faculty staff meeting, who complain about their pay, who have been a the college for more than a decade who know how to manipulate the system well. They are a protected class of people.

    Employment at a non-profit is not about working at or below the contract, it’s first about service to the marginalized, unemployed, discriminated, economlivally underprivileged, and the many who are challenged by isms on a daily basis to list a few. The faculty are not even representative of the students that they serve in important gatekeeping departments.

    We have few faculty who are privileged self-entitled people that feel the need to put themselves first before our students.

    I do hope the commission is revamped or replaced; more importantly, I do hope the faculty are made aware that they are public servants in a non-profit and they are NOT the owners of City College and everyone needs to move into the 21st century and meet all new reporting requirements.

    The faculty were co-creators to this mess and the facts on record need speak to this. It’s simply a matter of finding time and objective reporting and analysis that will bring the facts to the surface of how poorly the college was run a decade past.

    • sffoghorn

      A public institution is not a nonprofit, at least not yet–don’t give Calvin any bright ideas, he’d corrupt the shit out of CCSF if he thought there was a buck to be made.

      Leadership is a collective noun that is not pluralized. Might I suggest an English Class at City College of San Francisco to brush up on your usage?

      • p_chazz

        Might I suggest that correcting another person’s grammar in a comment section is a form of trolling?

        • sffoghorn

          Perhaps. But when we’re talking about public policy in education, it is fair game to point out that someone uneducated in the language is trying to make the case about the quality of education.

    • GarySFBCN

      “Employment at a non-profit is not about working at or below the contract, it’s first about service to the marginalized, unemployed, discriminated, economlivally underprivileged, and the many who are challenged by isms on a daily basis to list a few.”

      This organization doesn’t exist solely for “the marginalized” and your idealized notion that people should work for peanuts in the most expensive city in the US exposes your hypocrisy: Your concern for “economically underprivileged” and yet no concern for those who have important jobs and yet still can’t pay the rent.

    • Lena Denim

      You seem to have a problem with faculty, and I think it’s getting in the way of the truth here.

  • goodmaab

    Build the performing arts center, and take the money from the ACCJC salaries to pay for it…

  • goodmaab

    They need to focus on the planning of the college, the existing buildings needing repairs, and the faculties/staff salaries and courses offered. They have to make getting there easy, and courses available by well thought of professors that still make the school what it is a great place to get an education.

  • MaestroMike

    Thanks for this. The union is finally starting to pushback against the admin. Up until recently, there was no real visible pushback. In fact, the union/workplace issues were kept disconnected from the ACCJC battle and mobilizing on campus against cuts/treatment was meek. Instead, they favored meetings with admins. and grievance letters. Hope it’s not too late to build the faculty and community support necessary to win a fair contract.

    • sffoghorn

      What do taxpayers and students get in exchange for a contract that is fair to faculty, what is the contract of solidarity?

      • GarySFBCN

        Having attended many many classes at City College, I am quite satisfied with the teaching and curriculum, so nothing new needs to be added, unless there is some ‘accountability clause’ that allows the administration more easily fire a ‘bad apple’.

  • Karl Young

    Thanks Tim, I think it’s important to keep the plight of such an important SF institution in the public eye. And I wish the ACCJC were liable for the damage they caused and that CCSF could use any recovered funds for student recruitment, but I assume that’s a non starter.

    One thing CCSF might consider is to try and raise some money and increase enrollment by cashing in on us baby boomers, in terms of providing discounts to seniors for enrolling in classes. I recently really wanted to take a language class and figured I could help CCSF by trying to take a class with them. But when I investigated there was such a huge difference in the cost to take the class at CCSF and just doing it in the emeritus program at SFSU that it didn’t seem to make sense to take the class at CCSF. I ended up being too busy to do either, so can’t comment on which of those options makes most sense but it seems that CCSF might be able to raise enrollment, and retain more faculty by considering some sort of program for seniors.

  • Rick B

    There are many flaws in this article. The statement that the pay proposal “barely brings them (the faculty) back to pre-recession levels” is far from the truth. Faculty are currently being paid 3.5% less than in 2007. The proposed pay increase of 3.7% above the pay level of 2007 leaves faculty’s real pay far behind where it was in 2007 when one considers the increase in the cost of living since 2007 could be as high as 20%. Additionally, most faculty are facing an increase in their contribution to their retirement plan of 2.25% that is deducted from their paycheck. This means that the proposed pay increase leaves the purchasing power of faculty pay well behind where it was in 2007. It does bring their pay level barely back to pre-recession levels.

    CCSF’s enrollment is shrinking in part because the administration has essentially discouraged students from enrolling. There is a flawed registration system and poor pr campaign. CCSF had an interim chancellor who sent an email to students right after the ACCJC announced in July 2013 that CCSF would be closing. In this email, she stated that CCSF would be closing as of July 2014 and did not specify there was any possibility that the college would remain open beyond that date.

    The discredited ACCJC is not done as an institution. It is still in charge and in a position to decide the fate of the college. The administration is still insisting that the college follow the demands of the ACCJC.

    We have to credit the administration and state officials with doing a marvelous job at downsizing CCSF.