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UncategorizedCity College protest: "We know the money is there"

City College protest: “We know the money is there”

Faculty, students march to protest cuts and the slow pace of contract talks

AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly speaks at a rally on Nov. 12, 2015. The faculty is calling for a vote on a one-day strike at City College of San Francisco. Photo by Sara Bloomberg
AFT 2121 President Tim Killikelly speaks at a rally on Nov. 12, 2015. The faculty is calling for a vote on a one-day strike at City College of San Francisco. Photo by Sara Bloomberg

By Sara Bloomberg

Armed with megaphones and hand-written signs, more than 200 members of the City College community rallied on Nov. 12 at its downtown campus at 4th and Mission streets and then marched to its relocated Civic Center campus, now at United Nations Plaza.

Faculty and staff say they feel betrayed by the school’s administration, which has indicated that it intends to reduce class offerings by as much as 26 percent and cut more than 300 faculty positions over the next six years, despite the availability of increased funding.

“We know the money is there,” Supervisor David Campos said to the crowd.

Supervisor Eric Mar, center left, introduces "Diamond" Dave Whitaker, far left, a City College of San Francisco life-long learner who just turned 78 years old
Supervisor Eric Mar, center left, introduces “Diamond” Dave Whitaker, far left, a City College of San Francisco life-long learner who just turned 78 years old

It’s a confusing predicament. In 2012, state and local voters approved two tax measures that promised to increase education funding after years of devastating cuts.

Locally, San Francisco passed Measure A, a parcel tax that was expected to bring in $16 million annually just to City College for eight years.

Proposition 30 promised funding for education at all levels statewide. City College was projected to receive $20.7 million from this fund for the 2013-2014 school year, according to data from the state controller’s office.

On top of that, State Senator Mark Leno introduced legislation in 2014 to help stabilize City College’s funding for four years in the aftermath of the accreditation crisis, which caused enrollment — and the associated state reimbursements — to plummet.

And yet, despite all of this promised funding, which was supposed to help save classes and jobs, faculty recently learned that more cuts were being planned for the long term.

“We’re not standing for this,” said Tim Killikelly, president of the faculty union AFT 2121. “There’s gonna be lower enrollment, we understand that. But 26 percent of classes cut? They’re trying to scare us into accepting their austerity program.”

Faculty are currently in negotiations for a new contract and announced during the rally that the union was calling for a one-day strike vote; the union also filed an Unfair Labor Practices complaint on Nov. 5 against the college district.

The complaint alleges bad faith bargaining practices and illegal surveillance of union activities.

It also seems odd that the district is planning on padding its reserves three to four times beyond the state’s recommended threshold.

The administration insists that these measures reflect consistent drops in enrollment since the 2008-2009 school year and that budgeting projections are in place to keep the college fiscally sustainable while it’s still under “restoration” status and attempting to affirm its accreditation.

“We have proposed a gradual schedule reduction over a number of years, combined with an increase in funds for marketing and a focus on areas where we can grow. We are committed to increasing enrollment (and) addressing compensation issues, while also providing for the long-term financial health of the college,” the college’s director of external affairs, Jeff Hamilton, told 48 Hills via email.

Regarding Proposition 30, Measure A and the state’s stabilization fund, Hamilton added that the college is “incredibly fortunate to have them” but “they either run out soon or they are not guaranteed to continue.”

This is little consolation to the continuing and new students who do enroll in the college, only to face sudden class cuts at the beginning of each semester.

“These cuts are really scary for non-credit and ESL students. But it’s also affecting credit courses, which are becoming overcrowded as they consolidate sections, particularly in the diversity department,” former student trustee Shanell Williams said.

Williams currently splits her time between City College and the University of California, Berkeley, where she is pursuing a degree in urban studies.

“I feel betrayed. Students feel betrayed. There’s a lot of misinformation out there, and frustration, fear, confusion. A lot of people don’t even know the college is open,” Williams said. “Students want to learn. It feels like the administration doesn’t have the right priorities.”

Tim Redmond
Tim Redmond has been a political and investigative reporter in San Francisco for more than 30 years. He spent much of that time as executive editor of the Bay Guardian. He is the founder of 48hills.
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  32. $am, there is a rule about discussions: If you don’t know the topic, keep your mouth shut so you won’t show your ignorance. It’s a rule you should learn.

    My responses, point by point:

    — I am a student at CCSF. I pay my fees for the classes I enroll in. I don’t feel that I am undercharged. Please explain how I am undercharged. Please keep in mind that I am also a California taxpayer.

    — What is this “massively underfunded pension plan?” The faculty at CCSF is covered by the State Teachers Retirement System with fees and benefits set by the state. CCSF has no say in this.

    — You can probably avoid running a college that is “unionised” if you live in Wisconsin, but this is California. Unions are a fact of life here.

    — What politicians control CCSF? The Board of Trustees was disbanded in June 2013 and the one meeting now is still under the thumb of a special trustee.

    — Endless handouts for staff and students? How about some examples? Otherwise it’s too vague to ponder.

    — You would not run a college where it was thought to be “a god (sic) idea to use one-time non-recurring bond and tax funding to pay for ongoing operations.” I assume you are referring to Prop. A, which was approved by 74% of the SF voters. You’ve defended the decisions of voters in discussions about excessive campaign spending. Why are they wrong in this instance?

    All of this, of course, is academic. You would never run a public college in California because you would never make it past the interview.

  33. I would never run a college that undercharges students and then doesn’t enforce collection of the fees.

    I would never run a college with a massively under-funded pension plan. In fact I would not run a college that has such a generous pension plan.

    I would not run a college that was unionised.

    I would not run a college that is controlled by politicians.

    I would not run a college where the staff and students expect endless handouts.

    I would not run a college where it was thought a god idea to use one-time non-recurring bond and tax funding to pay for ongoing operations.

  34. Nothing is free, Rick. What you mean of course is that you want someone else to pay more so that you can stuff for free.

  35. You missed the main point of what I wrote. Essentially, community college tuition should once again be free. Hence, no student would have to spend time filling out a financial aid form to get grant money to pay for tuition.

  36. Yes, students who need financial aid should apply for it and receive it, and then they should pay their tuition with the grant money. And hence, everyone will be paying their tuition….

    …CCSF has never bothered to worry about stuff like accounting. Minor thing to you, I know.

  37. Tuition at California’s Community Colleges was free around 30 years ago. Now that we are a wealthier society with numerous multi-billionaires, should those served by community colleges be expected to pay over $1,300/year in tuition to attend full-time? What do community college tuition charges indicate about the priorities of our society? Tod1732, would you favor charging students who attend a public high school or kindergarten? If not, then why should anyone have to pay tuition to attend a community college?

  38. “The college must also spend more money on its required contribution to the state teacher’s retirement system”

    What? You mean stuff has to be paid for? I thought pensions fell out of the sky on the wings of unicorns.

  39. Yippee! Now we can go back to never ever collecting tuition from those students who weren’t in the mood to pay…

    …one of life’s great lessons.

  40. I’ll agree that CCSF was undermined from above, beginning in 2012 when a series of interim chancellors and special trustees ran the institution under the direction of the state chancellor. But I’ll challenge you to describe the ideologies of the various players in this drama.

    As for private hands, the college accreditor who kicked off this crisis is a private enterprise. Despite three critical reports, the last one saying it should be fired, it remains on the job and collecting dues from California community colleges. This is taxpayer and student money.

    Or consider the for-profit college business. It’s been under pressure since the Obama administration started restricting its access to student loans for worthless degrees. How about Corinthian Colleges, which recently closed, leaving many students (who are taxpayers) in the lurch, or Phoenix University, which has been kicked off of U.S. military bases for deceptive practices?

    You are definitely OTL on this topic, $am. I will say this: If you were running a college, it certainly would not have lasted for long.

  41. The “empirical” evidence for CCSF being a basketcase is the massive reduction in enrolment, indicating that even CCSF students have no faith in the institution or its staff.

    By definition the staff are overpaid if CCSF is not paying its way.

  42. Um, real wages/terms give you a better sense of people’s real lives. Have you taken a basic econ course? And yes, I see you keep contending a lot of things, but don’t back it up with anything real empirical or substantive. You just sound like a zombie for Trump.

  43. It’s easy to blame the administrators. But they were undermined both from above (ideologically biased politicians) and from underneath (over-politicized unions, staff and students). It is a deeply flawed enterprise which, in private hands, would have closed long ago.

  44. A 20% cut from 2007 (and even then only in real terms, not nominal) is trivial if the 2007 pay and benefit levels were excessive, which I contend that they were.

    And I am fine with a much longer strike. It won’t affect anyone except the students, and will show the decision-makers that CCSF is not an entity that deserves further investment, but rather the opposite. Be my guest.

    CCSF is not viable, and student numbers will continue to decline. The question has to be asked whether we need it at all or whether we should instead invest in a superior product.

  45. What’s your proof that pay and benefits are bloated? Sounds like you’re talking out of your arse. Adjusted for inflation, faculty are actually down 20% from 2007 pay. Nobody is saying colleges, like any service, need to make cuts and/or changes as the economy and demographics change. These administrators, however, are at the college to implement their corporate agenda, which among other things means drive down pay, undermine the union, and cut classes and programs like counseling our students desperately need. My only issue with the proposed strike is that it would be only for one day.

  46. No, that’s not my point $am. As I’ve explained to you before, Agrella was appointed in June 2013 by state Chancellor Brice Harris under a deal with Barbara Beno, president of the now discredited accrediting commission that ginned up the whole accrediting crisis.

    Agrella made some really bad decisions, including hiring an out-of-state consultant to run an ineffective enrollment campaign. He also hired Art Tyler as Chancellor, who was eased out of the position when it became apparent that he was not up to the job. Agrella also suddenly left his job under circumstances that are not clear; we never saw a letter of resignation and Harris announced Agrella’s resignation in a tweet.

    Overall, I think CCSF was poorly served its administration during the Harris/Agrell reign. Now people like you, who hate CCSF anyway and figure it has no reason for existence, want to limit student access through enrollment growth by cutting clases and selling off property.

    It’s a good thing that people like you don’t understand the facts well enough or have the expertise to have a say in educational policy.

  47. There has been money, but it has not been properly spent. Much has been spent on coming into compliance with the demands of the discredited accrediting agency, the ACCJC, and ending up in the pockets of outside consultants and overpaid administrators.

    The administration has done a poor job of encouraging students to enroll and may have even discouraged many from enrolling. That is partly why enrollment, the source of much state money, has plummeted by the tens of thousands.

    In the meantime, CCSF will be losing money as the current Leno bill comes to an end in a year and a half. The college must also spend more money on its required contribution to the state teacher’s retirement system. That contribution, that is based on the pay of members, is scheduled to increase from 8.25% to 19.1% over the next few years. Thank you Jerry Brown for signing into law this “reform” bill that further loots funds that are supposed to be used for education.

    The big issue is when is the state going to properly fund not just CCSF, but all public educational institutions?

  48. If your point is that greed and incompetence permeates the entire organisation then I would agree with you. But investors do not like to throw good money after bad on losing enterprises. If CCSF is failing to attract students then it must be downsized, and not subsidized.

    Back your winners; not your losers.

  49. We know the money is there? Do we? Every recipient of taxpayer largesse thinks that they should get more money. The hands are always out and the trough is always bottomless. But every dollar that goes to one complainant is a dollar taken from another. And we have to ask if CCSF is a worthy recipient of funds given its long history of both incompetence and the mindless bleating of those who gorge at that trough.

    If enrolment is down by a quarter than funding should match that. If that manes job losses then so be it. Those of us who pay their wages should be the ones to decide, and not the staff themselves. And, like all public sector workers, these staff are on a bloated package of pay and benefits.

    I’d rather the money was spent on public safety or fixing the damn roads.

    And a strike? Bring it on. Who cares if the staff don’t get [aid and the students don’t learn anything?

  50. The enrollment campaign instituted under former Trustee Agrella and former Chancellor Tyler was an expensive disaster and the results show it.

  51. The article does a good job of summing up the current situation at CCSF. Add to this that the administration chooses to be “committed to increasing enrollment” by spending large sums of money on advertising consultants from out of state. Their current campaign completely ignores noncredit students, which at one point made up almost half the students at the college. Low-cost outreach is very effective, and just making the enrollment and registration process slightly less unwelcoming and confusing would go a long way toward rebuilding enrollment.

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