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Academic Senate Newsletter

Friday February 1, 2013

President's Message

Dear Local Senate Presidents,

Greetings! Happy New Year and Welcome Back! I’ve been meaning to get an update out, but was hoping to have a better understanding of the Governor’s budget proposal before I tried to provide information on it. We should get more detail soon. But there are lots of other things to share – in addition to murky budget details.

Have you used your veto power lately?
Robert Shireman of California Competes, the organization that has formally challenged our governance regulations, continues to misrepresent how we operate. I’ve never been on a panel before where I was compelled to say “that is simply not true” in response to a co-panelists statement before, but now it has happened. If any of you have obtained the ability to veto actions on your campus, please let me know so that I can point to your college as an anomaly in our system.

More importantly, the Chancellor’s Office issued its response to the challenge on Monday. Here’s an excerpt:

Shared Governance is Good Public Policy
California Competes public policy arguments are off the mark. These arguments present the opinion of a small organization with very limited experience or understanding of community colleges in California. In California, 72 community college districts administer 112 colleges serving over 2 million students every year. Under these circumstances, it is highly likely that a few will periodically have problems relating to organizational management. California Competes presents anecdotal information from a few colleges to argue that the regulations at issue are the cause of system wide dysfunction. The reality is quite different.

Click here to read the complete document.

The Governor’s Budget Proposal
The Governor’s budget proposal is interesting. We have to be pleased that he wants to give us more money, but some of the policies he is trying to simultaneously implement are unclear and others are somewhat troubling. But it is a “proposal” and it appears that there is a pretty united front within our system on the elements that are most problematic. Below is an edited excerpt (with my comments in parentheses) from the summary provided by the Chancellor’s Office. The complete document can be found here.

The Governor proposes:

• $196.7M in increased apportionment funding. (How this will be allocated is a subject of much discussion.)

• $179M to buy down existing deferrals. 

• $49.5M to support energy efficiency efforts pursuant to the recently passed Prop 39 ballot initiative.

• $16.9M to enhance online education efforts in the CCCs, including the creation of a centralized Virtual Campus into a single hosting system, so students could find online courses and access 24/7 support through a common portal. (The details that we do have on this one fall into the “troubling” category. While we can all understand the appeal of the CCCs having a common course management system, the complexity to get us there and the blood that is shed over these choices at the local level make this potentially unworkable. I’m hopeful that this will be modified into something that is beneficial to all.)

• $300M in a shift of responsibility for Adult Education from K12 to the CCCs. (This would be shifting all of the work from K12 to the CCCs, but just 1/3 of the funding that K12 currently receives for Adult Education.)

• $15.7M in a shift of responsibility for Apprenticeship from K12 to CCCs. 

• Replace long-standing provisional language concerning the funds for the Economic and Workforce Development Program with a requirement that the Chancellor’s Office submit an annual expenditure to the Department of Finance for approval (similar to SB 70).

The Governor’s proposal also includes some significant policy changes:

• A 5-year phase-in of funding apportionments on completion rather than on census date enrollment.  Unlike previous proposals, though, this is intended to be cost neutral, as districts would have funding lost through the apportionment shifted to student support efforts such as the Student Success and Support Program (formerly known as Matriculation). (This is rather odd. We would be incentivized to keep students in courses so as to keep dollars for instruction, as opposed to student services. It’s not clear how this would be beneficial.)

• A 90-unit cap for students.  Under this proposal, no state support would be provided for students that have exceeded 90 units. Students taking courses above the cap would be required to pay the full cost of instruction, with some provision for case-by-case waivers. (This introduces a two-tiered system AND ignores our recent changes to enrollment priorities. As noted in an LA Times article on Sunday, we should be permitted to complete the “reforms” in progress before making additional changes.)

• Alter Part B BOG fee waivers to require students to complete a FAFSA and include the income of both parents and the student to determine eligibility.

Everyone has many questions about all of the above. As things change and move, we’ll be sure to keep you informed. It is an interesting time, to say the least.

Open Educational Resources (OER): The Implementation of SB1052
The senates of the three segments of higher education are working together to initiate the implementation of this legislation, which calls for a “council” to be in place within 90 days of its implementation. This council would identify the 50 courses for which OER are to be obtained or developed for consideration for use by higher education faculty in the state. We’ll soon be seeking information on current OER use across the colleges – stay tuned!

CCC System Mental Health Resources
At our Fall Plenary we had a presentation on the various mental health resources available to the colleges across the state, including access to online simulations provided by Kognito. For more information on this, please click here. Efforts are underway to develop resources focused specifically on the needs of the LGBT population. Input from all interested faculty will be sought. Again, stay tuned.

A safe, happy, and healthy holiday season to all,
Michelle Pilati, Ph.D.

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