Angered by deep budget cuts and deteriorating services, students and faculty from several campuses in the financially beleaguered Los Angeles Community College District blasted the Board of Trustees on Wednesday and called for the removal of Chancellor Leslie Koltai.
About 150 protesters demonstrated outside the college district’s downtown headquarters and packed the board room, voicing a litany of complaints ranging from the recent layoff of 53 non-teaching employees to the poor maintenance of campus facilities and equipment. Many speakers accused the administration of mismanaging the district’s finances and demanded more local control for the system’s nine colleges.
“I suggest we replace the trickle-down theory with the trickle-up theory and remove those at the top first, especially those who contribute the least,” retired Pierce College professor Jack Hess told the board. “The administration has become an empire-building industry, an end in itself, blown out of proportion to the real world.”
Henry Ealy, president of the Black Faculty and Staff Assn. of Los Angeles City College, was one of several speakers who called for the removal of Koltai and three vice chancellors. “Bite the bullet, if you must . . . but don’t give us any more excuses,” he said. “Stop trying to balance your budget on the backs of the classified employees.”
The nine-campus district was forced to slash $8.2 million from its 1985-86 budget in September. As a result, 53 non-teaching employees were laid off, parking fees were raised and funds for campus newspapers and supplies were reduced.
At the heart of the budget crisis are the sharply declining enrollments of the last four years. Enrollment dropped from a high of 136,000 in 1981 to 93,000 this fall.
Because community colleges rely heavily on state funding that is based on attendance, those figures mean that the district lost about $33 million over the four years, according to district officials. Furthermore, officials predict, the district faces a deficit of $9 million to $18 million next year.
Koltai, who has been chancellor since 1972, did not respond to the calls for him to step down. But several trustees said his removal is not the solution to the district’s woes and attempted to shift the blame to Gov. George Deukmejian.
Board President Monroe F. Richman told the angry crowd to “take your signs, march to Sacramento and see what the governor says to you. That’s where the money is coming from.”
Some trustees, however, said the district could do more to alleviate the fiscal crunch by reducing the administrative staff and moving the headquarters to another location that is less costly to rent.
The headquarters, which occupies eight floors of an office building at 7th and Flower streets, has been criticized for being too plush. The current lease runs through 1989 and costs about $1 million a year.