College Trustees Unveil List of District Goals : Education: Streamlining registration and holding line on fees are among 23 proposals presented at special session. Studying employee morale is also discussed.
Trustees of the Ventura County Community College District--after months of fielding student and faculty complaints that the board is unresponsive to campus needs--on Saturday proposed a list of districtwide goals ranging from creating more parking space at the colleges to helping students graduate faster.
Meeting in a special Saturday session, the trustees also discussed studying employee morale and the state-mandated “shared-governance” process in which college staff members are supposed to participate in the management of district affairs.
Since early last fall, when their contract talks with the district stalled, college instructors have spoken of plummeting morale and a feeling that district administrators and trustees do not consult them in key matters affecting the district.
But at least one trustee, Pete Tafoya, said his outlook on the district’s future has been affected by teachers’ protests and student input.
“You become a lot more sensitive when you have picketing on the site,” Tafoya said, referring to protests instructors have staged at Moorpark, Oxnard and Ventura Colleges, as well as on the steps of the district office.
The five trustees proposed 23 different goals, a condensed version of which will be reviewed by the board at a later session.
Among the list were proposals that the district:
* Streamline the registration process, called “cumbersome” by the trustees, either through more sophisticated computerization or other means.
* Work at the state level to resist increases in student fees, which have risen from $6 per unit in the fall of 1992 to $13 per unit since the fall of 1993. Fees for students with bachelors’ degrees are $50 per unit.
* Create a district-level office that could provide trustees and district staff with trend and statistical information about district students and faculty.
* Develop a plan for upgrading and maintaining campus buildings, laboratories and other facilities, some of which are in great need of refurbishing, college officials say.
* Invite local legislators onto the district’s three campuses more frequently, to show them around and explain what the district is doing.
In other action, the trustees agreed they should be less inhibited about spending money on travel, both for themselves and for district faculty and administrators.
Since former district Trustee James T. (Tom) Ely was convicted three years ago of misusing travel and other district funds, trustees said they have held back from proposing community college-related travel.
“It’s appropriate education,” said Trustee Gregory P. Cole, but he predicted that the teachers union “will say that the board spent $5,000 per year on travel that should be going to the classroom.”
“But,” he said, “it’s important to having a viable board of trustees.”
Teachers have criticized district expenditures on items they consider extras.
Teachers have asked the district for a 3% raise and a cost-of-living increase as part of their contract negotiations, but district officials say the district is in such tough financial straits that it cannot increase their salaries and in fact would like faculty to contribute to the cost of their health benefits.
Additionally, the trustees, after an occasionally acrimonious debate, voted Saturday to maintain the current, non-resident student tuition rate of $110 per unit. As he has in the past, Tafoya lobbied to lower the rate to $108 per unit, the district’s estimated cost for educating a student. But Cole, as he has in the past, pushed to raise the rate even higher, to $113 per unit, in order to generate more district revenue.
The topic has become an issue at the district because foreign students--who also must pay a $7 per unit surcharge on top of the regular fees--have complained that the cost is prohibitive.