Coast district to add 15 to faculty

After years of cost cutting and stagnant hiring, the Coast Community College District will hire 15 full-time faculty members in the next school year.

Board trustees have discussed increasing full-time faculty since September, when they tasked Chancellor Andrew Jones with developing a hiring plan.

The district organized a "consultation council" consisting of faculty members, union and student representatives, and classified staff to assist with the development of the plan.

District officials and board trustees met Wednesday night for a study session to discuss the council's findings.

The district's three colleges — Orange Coast in Costa Mesa, Golden West in Huntington Beach and Coastline, which has colleges in several locations including Newport Beach — have been relying heavily on part-time faculty through the past several difficult budget years, said Vice Chancellor Andy Dunn.

"There was a deliberate strategy to reduce the number of full timers to at or near the required level to save money," he said. "Unlike many other agencies, we weathered the storm without layoffs."

However, with the passage of Proposition 30, which gives additional funding to California's community college system through temporarily raised sales taxes and taxes on incomes above $250,000, the district had the best budget year in roughly five years, Jones said.

To continue to collect money through Proposition 30 next year, the colleges need to meet specific growth targets in full-time student population and faculty, according to state requirements.

This led to discussions about how to build up the number of full-time faculty to pre-recession levels.

Though no vote was taken, it is expected that Orange Coast will see seven new hires, including instructors for kinesiology, hospitality, travel and tourism, history, ornamental horticulture, and philosophy. Golden West will welcome five new hires in disciplines like geology, psychology, mathematics and English.

Coastline, which has the lowest percentage of courses taught by full-timers throughout the district, is being allowed to hire only a counselor and instructors for chemistry and computer information systems.

Several faculty members attended the study session to encourage the board to move forward with hiring plans.

Full-time faculty have more investment in the colleges and student success because they're on campus for longer periods of time and can offer more office hours, said Eduardo Arismendi-Pardi, a full-time faculty member at OCC.

They also are more active in syllabus reviews and other types of curriculum development, he said.

"Full-time faculty are the backbone of the campus, creating a climate indispensable to retaining students," he said.

However, Jones believes the difference isn't as clear cut.

"What has happened as the presidents have had to manage growth targets and institution budgets, they've had to use the most efficient model," he said. "We can argue about effectiveness … but when you look at success rates, they don't vary much between full- and part-time faculty."

Dean Mancina, president of the Coast Federation of Educators, presented his own report during the study session, urging the district to expand hiring to 18 additional positions.

He said by reducing the district's reserve by 0.5%, the district could add $1 million to fund faculty positions.

"The commitment to the hiring of full-time faculty is not only a long-term commitment to the department, but also a long-term commitment to the college, our students and our community," he wrote in his report.

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