Community Colleges OK 9% Hike in Budget
Reversing a trend of steady budget reductions for much of the 1980s, the Los Angeles Community College Board on Wednesday approved an increase of more than 9% in its budget for the coming school year.
The $242.4-million budget adopted by the board, however, is contingent on approval of $11.1 million in state funds for the nine-campus district. That money, which is part of a $34-million “stabilization” fund for the community college districts with declining enrollments, was vetoed by Gov. George Deukmejian in June because of a dispute with the Legislature over the source of the money.
Assuming that the governor and the Legislature can work out their differences, the financially troubled community college district will for the first time in years be in “reasonably strong financial shape,” said Thomas M. Fallo, the district’s vice chancellor for business services.
Despite the relative improvement in the 1986-87 budget, the district administration unveiled a plan for the board’s approval at its next meeting that would deny any salary increases for faculty in the coming academic year.
According to Harold Fox, president of the American Federation of Teachers chapter that represents the community college instructors, the faculty union will seek a 10% pay raise, plus cost-of-living increases, when contract negotiations begin later this month.
One aspect of the administration’s collective-bargaining plan that is especially likely to generate controversy is a proposal to remove intercollegiate sports coaches from the faculty bargaining unit. The district proposes that individual contracts be negotiated with each coach.
The administration also proposes that the district offer one-year contracts to faculty members instead of three-year contracts.
For the first time, it also plans to impose a 12-month work schedule on teachers, in contrast to the current nine-month schedule. Faculty members would not be expected to teach any more classes under the new plan but they would, in essence, be on call year-round so that the district would have more flexibility in planning and in responding to enrollment fluctuations, according to Virginia F. Mulrooney, vice chancellor for personnel services.
Because the union has not had a chance to study the contract proposal, Fox declined detailed comments on the proposal.
Fallo, the district’s chief business officer, cautioned that the colleges’ financial problems are not fully solved, but he noted that for the first time in years, the district can report some good news because it has “spent less than it earned.”
To obtain a small surplus between last year’s budget and this year’s, the campuses have had to restructure many programs, cut salaries of many employees and lay off dozens of workers.
In addition to about $3.6 million in budget surpluses, the district anticipates about $7.5 million from the California Lottery.
Perhaps most heartening for the district is that enrollment--to which state financial support is directly linked--is expected to increase this fall after declining nearly a third since the early 1980s. Although it is too early to make firm projections for the fall, this summer the nine-campus system experienced a 14% increase in student enrollment. If current trends continue, Fallo said, there may be a 10% increase in enrollment above the 1985 level for the fall.
If the Legislature and governor do not agree to restore the vetoed $11.1 million, district administrators warned, much of the anticipated improvement in the 1986-87 budget would be wiped out and the district’s governing board would have to approve a revised budget at their next meeting Sept. 17. Cuts would have to be made in maintenance and equipment, and an 18% reduction would have to be made in part-time personnel who make up the bulk of the community college teaching force.