On Friday, around one in the morning, City College’s Board of Trustees voted to approve cuts of 160 Full-Time Equivalent Faculty from various departments around the school, including ESL, DSPS (Disabled Students Programs and Services), and nursing.
These layoffs would be effective at the end of the semester, May 15, with termination notices known as “pink slips” being issued on March 15, starting with faculty with the least seniority, with a two-month appeal period for affected faculty to contest their termination.
It is currently unknown who exactly will get laid off, and how many will be part-time vs full-time, but Malaika Finkelstein, president of AFT 2121, the union which represents the faculty at City College, said all departments that will experience layoffs must first have all their part-time faculty laid off before the full-timers can be issued pink slips, meaning that the college will have far more than 160 layoffs at the end of the semester.
“They are not talking about cutting 160 FTE worth of classes. What they are talking about is laying off 160 living, breathing people,” Finkelstein said during the meeting. “The math department has 20 part-time and 28 full-time teachers, you’re seeing a reduction in the math department of four FTEs, meaning they want to lay off four full-time teachers. Legally, they can only do that if there is no work for those teachers. That means before those four get laid off, the part-time faculty give up their assignments and get laid off … Layoffs of [part-time] adjuncts don’t require pink slips and don’t require [the Board’s] vote, they just lay us off. They cut our assignments and we disappear…So when the administration asks [the Board] to vote on four [FTE layoffs], the real number of actual people…in the math department, is 24.”
Finkelstein added that in addition to the 19 FTEs facing layoffs in the ESL department come May, an additional 50 part-time ESL faculty will be laid off as well.
The exasperation of faculty was clear as these cuts are nothing new for City College, which cut classes with fewer than 10 students enrolled as recently as Fall 2020, after having cut 288 spring courses in November 2019 due to another budget deficit.
Now, college is yet again in financial straits, facing a $20 million budget shortfall due to continued low enrollment, which has consistently declined over several years, even continuing to decline during the 2008-09 recession, which had never happened before.
Currently, the formula that calculates City College’s state-granted funding bases funding on the amount received in the 2017-2018 fiscal with annual adjustments based on the state’s COLA (Cost of Living Adjustment), which has allowed the college to net an additional $7.9 million from the state. However, this provision ends in 2023, and if student enrollment does not improve at the college, the loss of that provision could add to the school’s budgetary issues.
DSPS will have 40 percent of its part-time faculty laid off according to Finkelstein, who is a DSPS instructor. DSPS does not show up on the board’s report because most of the faculty in that department are part-timers, according to Finkelstein.
The cuts to DSPS could be particularly draconian, according to Maia Scott, an instructor of accessible dance and art. Scott said that for disabled students around the city, who depend on having several sections of the same class in different locations for accessibility and scheduling reasons, having fewer instructors to teach those classes will limit class availability, meaning enrollment of disabled students in accessible arts classes will drop.
“Less classes could mean no classes…a lot of them attend with a caregiver or with family…and all those allies have different schedules. So there’s a need for a variety of times, not just the assortment of classes,” said Scott.
Scott also said that cutting dance and arts courses could be damaging to disabled people personally, who gain self-confidence, self-worth, and physical agility as a result of participating in the arts.
“The arts are not only fun to do and make pretty things, but can teach us how to fail and to thrive, and in the disability community, we need to do that on a regular basis,” said Scott, who is partially blind. “Getting on the bus can be a study in improvisation and negotiating other bodies that don’t understand that our bodies move and work differently, we have to adapt, adjust, change…and I see my students finding comfort and integrity in their own bodies.”
Faculty also say that the college’s nursing program could lose its accreditation from the Board of Nursing. Maureen Noonan, an instructor in the college’s registered nursing department, said that nursing cuts could cause City College to lose coveted clinical spots at Bay Area hospitals.
“If our program size is reduced it is highly unlikely that this will be temporary. We have a long-standing relationship with the hospitals in the city, and we have been able to secure clinical placements in San Francisco despite the highly competitive environment. If we give up any of these sites, they will be immediately filled by other programs and we will not be able to get them back in the future,” said Noonan.
Department Chair Council President Darlene Alioto also said that it’s likely that faculty cuts will lead to the loss of the registered nursing department’s Board of Nursing accreditation.
“Nurses have been the bravest heroes throughout this pandemic…yet you will approve cutting nursing classes and eliminating nursing faculty, which will lead to a loss of accreditation for this program…we may be eliminating a highly-regarded program by seeing that it doesn’t have sufficient faculty to meet its accreditation,” said Alioto.
CCSF Media Relations Director Rosie Zepeda said in an email that there is no evidence that the registered nursing program’s Board of Nursing accreditation is at risk.
“I want to state the fact that our Nursing Program is not losing its accreditation and how damaging it is to the program if we do not dispel these rumors. That program is in good standing,” said Zepeda.
Board of Trustees President Shanell Williams said that cuts to faculty, particularly those who teach classes with low enrollment, is required for the college to remain solvent, and therefore, accredited.
“The main portion of our budget is salaries and benefits, so when you look at places to cut, there aren’t many other places,” said Williams. “It’s really about making sure that the productivity of class offerings, sometimes we’ll carry classes that do not meet the minimum threshold of student enrollment and folks will say ‘oh students will enroll after a period of time’ and then it doesn’t happen. Then we’re running a class paying a particular salary and that class is costing us way more than it’s paying us from the state or the city and county of San Francisco, and there’s a lot of those classes.”
Williams also acknowledged, however, that city colleges have been historically underfunded:
“Thinking about the state funding formula, we don’t like it, but the state is committed to that funding formula. We wish that we could have a different climate and get more funding…community colleges do not get the funding that we need even though we are such an important part of training the workforce and lifting folks out of poverty. It’s frustrating for all of us as Board members. We have to make sure we don’t go bankrupt and lose our accreditation again.”
Faculty members, however, criticized the Board of Trustees and City College’s administration during the meeting, saying that they are myopically focused on short-term cuts and have no real plans for the college’s growth long-term, including ditching outreach strategies that have failed and rethinking ways to attract students to city college so that the school can avoid regular cuts and retain staff and accredited programs, rather than focusing primarily on downsizing each semester, said Maria Salazar-Colon, President of City College’s Classified Senate, which represents the college’s classified, non-faculty staff.
“We just want to know, what’s the plan for programs to continue? What’s the plan to have classes and student services that are going to invite students to City College?” said Salazar-Colon, speaking on behalf of SEIU Local 1021 president Athena Steff during the Board of Trustees meeting. “Yes, we know the budget is in a horrendous way, [but] every time information is given out about taking cuts here, taking cuts there…there’s never anything produced to us that says ‘okay, here’s what we’re going to do after, this is how we’re going to fix it.”
Here’s what’s being cut:
Reduction or Elimination of Certain Particular Kinds of Services
The following particular kinds of services are to be reduced or eliminated at the end of the 2020-2021 academic year:
|PARTICULAR KINDS OF SERVICE OR DEPARTMENT OR DISCIPLINE POSITIONS||NUMBER OF EQUIVALENTS|
|Aircraft Maintenance Technology||3 FTEs|
|Auto/Motor/Constr & Bldg Maintenance||5 FTEs|
|Behavioral Sciences||5 FTEs|
|Biological Sciences||7 FTEs|
|Broadcast Electronic Media Arts||2 FTEs|
|Child Development & Family Studies||2 FTE|
|Communication Studies||1 FTE|
|Computer Science||3 FTEs|
|Culinary Arts & Hospitality||3 FTEs|
|Earth Sciences||2 FTEs|
|Engineering & Technology||3 FTEs|
|Environmental Horticulture & Floristry||2 FTEs|
|Health Education||2 FTEs|
|Interdisciplinary Studies||1 FTE|
|Library & Learning Resources||6 FTEs|
|Philippines Studies||1 FTE|
|Physical Education & Dance||6 FTEs|
|Radiological Sciences||1 FTE|
|Social Sciences||6 FTEs|
|Transitional Studies||3 FTEs|
|Visual Media Design||1 FTE|
|Women’s & Gender Studies||1 FTE|
|World Languages & Cultures||5 FTEs|