Special Board of Trustees Meeting Over Budget Concerns

Isiah Reyes

Glendale College’s board of trustees held a special meeting June 15 in response to the California’s serious budget crisis to discuss the tentative budget for the 2009-2010 year, focusing on the budget development, revenue and expenditure adjustments and pending college issues.

“We’re coming up with a plan,” said Rob Nakasone, interim vice president of administrative services. “One of the problems is that the state hasn’t approved its budget, so we don’t really know what our level of comfort will be.”

The board has many options for saving money for the budget. Cutting the winter intersession and the second summer session are just a few of those options. Ovsanna Khachikian, president of associated students, stated her disapproval for the elimination of the winter and summer sessions.

“I think cutting winter intersession.would be detrimental to students who have educational goals,” Khachikian said. “I think at this point it’s a bit too late to cut back on the second summer session.”

GCC’s revenue in the 2008-2009 year received the hardest hit from the property tax deficit, which was projected to be $981,000. The college had no budget for it whatsoever. In total, the difference between the budget revenue and the projected budget revenue was $576,000 more than planned.

A total of $5,229,000 separated the difference from budget expenditures to projected budget expenditures. Nakasone explained why.

“Part of the reason [for the difference] is because when we budgeted the retirement incentive, we didn’t realize that we were going to have as many retirees as we did,” Nakasone said.

Another category on the expenditures list was services, which had a projected difference of $731,000. The most significant overdrafts this year were hourly classified, benefits and utilities which added up to a total of $1,091,000.

During the meeting, after the 2008-2009 GCC budget status was discussed, the focus moved onto the next year’s state budget.

In February, the state legislature passed a budget package that covered both 2008-2009 and 2009-2010. The package included $15.8 billion in expenditure reductions and $14.4 billion in temporary tax increases.

The state budget affected the community colleges in 2008-2009 because it eliminated .68 percent of the cost-of-living-adjustment (COLA).

The tentative budget for 2009-2010 is based on the state’s February budget. It focuses to link the strategic master plan to 10 main goals, which include: increasing student success, increasing student retention, streamlining student services, improving administrative efficiency, improving integration of planning processes and developing and implementing student learning outcomes (SLO’s).

However, special attention has been placed on three specific goals: providing student access, expanding instructional programs and upgrading information technology.

“This year, any budget we implement needs to satisfy one of those three categories,” Nakasone said.

The projected new revenue changes for 2009-2010 will result in a total of a $1,081,000 deficit. The projected expenditure adjustments will result in a $1,592,000 deficit. The expenditure adjustments include student insurance, retirement incentives and utilities among other categories.

Some budget cut options include cutting winter intersession, implementing pay cuts across the board and reducing hourly classified hours.

There are several available options that the board is considering to help stay within the projected budget:

Cutting or reducing the winter intersession, which helps saves the college $1.9 million.

Reducing or eliminating pro-rata pay, saving $1.3 million. Pro-rata pay is the salary adjusted for the hours a person works.

Reducing student workers saves $730,000.

Having a pay cut across the board at one percent saves $675,000.

Freezing all non-essential new hires saves $440,000.

With so many options to choose from, which option(s) will the board decide to cut?

The choice will be based on several principles. First, the changes must have the smallest impact on students. Second, the cuts must be proportional to all divisions (student services, administration, instruction) as well as proportional cuts to all employee groups (management, guild).

In addition, the budget must protect a five percent reserve as well as protect the base enrollment and minimize the impact of fall and spring semesters. Finally, the budget cuts must be evaluated with the master plan. Lay-offs of permanent employees would be a last resort.

Concerning the cut or reduction of the winter session, Nakasone said, “We would only offer classes that are part of a program. Nursing has a two-year program that they’ve already built winter around.”

The choice on what to cut has not yet been made. Khachikian tried to shift the focus back to the students.

“It’s easy to get lost in these numbers and so as we’re talking about the intersession, it’s important to remember why we’re here in the first place,” Khachikian said. “We’re here as an educational institution.”

Regarding the reduction of student workers, Nakasone said that the elimination of student workers will most likely cause a halt in the operation of some departments, so there may be changes, but they will be minimal.

“Our plan is to come up with a range of options so that once we know [the adopted budget], we’re going to know which options we can use,” Nakasone said.

Some college issues that are pending are the adoption of the state budget, the 2009-2010 collective bargaining and funding for the new budget requests in 2009-2010.

Nakasone said that this is by far the greatest amount of budget cuts in the last 15 years.

At the meeting, there was two-side letter agreement between the District of Glendale and the Glendale College Guild to reduce the notification period of the Guild and CSEA from two weeks to one week if the board decided to declare a fiscal emergency. It was signed by Vicki Nicholson for the district, Isabella Saber for the Guild and Saodat Aziskhanova for CSEA.

For more information on the tentative budget on the 2009-2010 year, please follow the link: http://www.glendale.edu/budgetinfo/