GCC students, faculty and staff breathed a sigh of relief after averting a financial pitfall when early in the morning on Nov. 7 it was announced that Proposition 30 passed with 53.6 percent of the votes.
Interim president of GCC, Jim Riggs, kept waking up throughout the night checking his iPad for the results until his hopes were finally confirmed around 4 a.m.
“I thought all night long, ‘What are we going to do if this doesn’t pass?’ We had plans but there is a human side to those plans,” said Riggs. “We know our direction now and we can avoid the catastrophic cuts that were looming out there.”
“I didn’t know until this morning,” said Ron Nakasone, executive vice president of administrative services. “I was pleasantly surprised when I woke up and saw that it passed.”
Nakasone flashed a wide, warm smile at the end of the day, which had, until recently, been replaced with a look of exhaustion made up of difficult decisions and hard work.
“I don’t think people or staff understood how drastic the cuts were that we were planning on making if the initiative didn’t pass.”
Cost-saving measures would have included up to 20 faculty layoffs, department cuts, service hour cuts, and a reduction of at least 100 more courses had Proposition 30 failed to pass.
“I’m glad that we won,” said student Hebert Lucio, 22, a music major. “I didn’t think that we were going to win at first, we were down for a while.”
Lucio is taking general education classes at GCC but is concurrently enrolled in the California Institute of the Arts.
“If it [Proposition 30] didn’t pass I would’ve stopped coming here,” said Lucio. “My sociology professor mentioned that she wasn’t going to be rehired next semester if it didn’t pass.”
A classmate of Lucio’s, Nicole Frial, 19, is a nursing major who has the same sociology teacher. Frial admitted that she didn’t vote and, “didn’t hear about Proposition 30 until recently, about a week ago.”
Frial took interest in the tax initiative when her teacher had brought it up in class.
The adjunct sociology teacher wished remain anonymous.
Despite the encouraging passage of Proposition 30, the college still faces financial challenges.
“We can’t think that we’re out of the wilderness yet,” said Riggs. “We still need to make some adjustments to our programs because we are really geared up for a much larger student population.”
Riggs continues to believe that GCC needs to become a “smaller school.”
“We’re built for 4,000 to 4,300 sections, what we really have to do is go back to 3,500 sections,” said Riggs. “There is still a lot of planning to go, in order to get to the size of the institution we really are.”
Even though Riggs intends to keep the school smaller than the 4,353 courses offered in 2008 to 2009, he and Nakasone both confirmed that there will be 150 courses added back to this upcoming spring semester. Riggs hopes that doing so will make it easier for students to get the classes they need.
The interim president also spoke about integrating services of several different programs offered for students.
“Our learning support programs, supplemental instruction, tutoring, and other kind of support labs are being put together to save money but hopefully serve students better.”
As for the service and success of students it is good to hear that there will not be any layoffs, according to Seboo Aghajani, California School Employees Association’s public information officer and enrollment and services technician.
Before the CSEA knew whether or not the tax initiative was going to pass, department managers were told to pick one person from each department to lay off, according to Aghajani.
GCC’s staff is relieved now that no one is being let go, but emplyees are still sustaining 5 percent pay cuts.
CSEA’s president, Hoover Zariani, informed Aghajani, “Nothing is certain,” concerning negotiations about changes in pay cuts.
“We will comment next week when negotiations have come to a conclusion,” said Aghajani.
Nakasone shed some light on the topic.
“We’ve already agreed to a certain level of pay cuts for the faculty, classified employees and managers and it’s more than what we’re going to need. We’re going to have to stop the pay cuts earlier rather than going through the whole year.”
Confirming that there is presently a 5 percent pay cut, “Right now it’s looking like 1 or 2 percent cut is what we’re going to need. So we’re going to stop after three or four months,” said Nakasone.
All of GCC’s faculty and staff are still in negotiations and nothing is written in stone, but Proposition 30’s passing has lightened the load for many.