Coast college board voting on parity pay

COSTA MESA — The Coast Community College District may eliminate supplemental pay that helped bring pay rates for part-time instructors to levels closer to their full-time counterparts.

The reduction is so-called "parity pay" is aimed at helping the district overcome a $24-million budget shortfall.

The Board of Trustees plans to vote Wednesday on whether to cut the funds, which are given to part-timers at the end of each academic year to bring their salaries closer to the amount full-time teachers make for teaching the same classes. The state allots the money to districts, which in turn pass it on to instructors.

Board President Jerry Patterson said any cut to part-timers' pay would come with a heavy heart, but the district is seeking to trim expenses anywhere possible.

"Everybody is suffering cuts," he said. "We're not just picking on part-time."

District spokeswoman Martha Parham said Coast is in the process of talking with bargaining units and other groups to determine where cuts can be made.

Above all, she said, the district is aiming to avoid cutting personnel or any expenses that directly impact students.

The district is considering reallocating the money next year to matriculation, disabled student programs and services, and Extended Opportunities Programs and Services, which have suffered deep cuts, Patterson said.

The cuts would be for the 2011-12 school year. The parity funds for the current year are secure and will be paid in July, Parham said.

Parity funds help bridge the gap, although usually not by much. According to Patterson, the payment usually amounts to about $400 per teacher.

"It's a nice little check, but it's not huge," Patterson said. "It may or may not be considered part of their permanent salary, but it was an effort to make things more equal."

Barbara Price, the union representative for part-time teachers, said the state usually allots $1.5 million to the district annually for parity funds, but the number is down to $744,000 for 2011-12.

Even with the reduced amount, though, Price said she would fight to have the funds retained.

"If the district decides to take that money and put it somewhere else, they're breaking the contract, and they will hear from us," she said.

Without parity funds, Price said, part-time teachers generally make about half of what full-timers make for teaching equivalent courses.

And it's not just in money that part-timers are getting less, said Richard Lara, who teaches philosophy at Orange Coast College part time.

Instructors face an uncertain future with no job security, no medical benefits and a stigma around campus that they are "just" part-time instructors, he said.

"Even before the budget crisis started, we have been making scarifies," Lara said. "I think they are asking way, way, way too much of us."

—Staff Writer Britney Barnes also contributed to this article

If You Go

What: Coast Community College District board meeting

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Where: District board room at 1370 Adams Avenue, Costa Mesa


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