GCC attempting to avoid job cuts

NORTHEAST GLENDALE — Glendale Community College administrators and employees are continuing to grapple with solutions to make up for state funding cuts of up to $3 million, according to the latest estimates.

The college’s $88-million budget will have to shrink because of the state cuts, and with nearly 90% of reduction coming from salaries and benefits, there are few places to turn to for savings, officials said.

Employees have been working with administrators in an attempt to protect workers from salary cuts, a step suggested by the college’s budget committee, made up of representatives from the faculty, staff, administration and the student body.

Officials do not plan to cut jobs because of the state reductions, President/Supt. Dawn Lindsay said.

Faculty union representatives met with college negotiators Tuesday in a bargaining meeting that produced suggestions for avoiding across-the-board employee pay cuts of up to 3%, representatives said.

The union suggested possibly distributing salary cuts by pay grade, perhaps allowing lower paid employees to receive less of a percentage cut than their higher-paid colleagues, said Ramona Barrio-Sotillo, president of the faculty union, the Glendale College Guild.

“We’re still in dialogue about that, but we’re being very receptive to the ideas that people are bringing forward,” Lindsay said.

The college’s chapter of the California School Employees Assn., which represents non-instructional workers, has not taken a stand on distributing the cuts and does not have a bargaining meeting planned until September, President Saodat Aziskhanova said.

The union would be willing to meet sooner if officials want to negotiate salary reductions as part of a budget plan. While they have not yet requested a meeting, contractual changes will likely be necessary, Aziskhanova said.

“Definitely we know something needs to be done,” she said. “We need to do something to just survive. If it’s a salary reduction, it’s a salary reduction.”

The Board of Trustees has yet to act on any of the committee’s recommendations for cost savings, but cannot make any salary adjustments without first earning concessions from unions during negotiations.

Along with a salary reduction, the budget committee has also suggested a range of options that could combine to produce up to $4.4 million in savings if needed. The committee has suggested maintaining an employee hiring freeze, slashing the college’s abbreviated winter term by up to 50% and possibly spending reserves, a step administrators are reluctant to take.

In conjunction with other options, the total salary reduction for all employees could be tapered down to an across-the-board impact of only 1%, depending on the exact size of state cuts to the college, which have not yet been determined, said Ron Nakasone, interim vice president of administrative services.

All of the proposed reductions will affect students, either through reduced course offerings or by reductions in student-worker job opportunities, Nakasone said.

The committee, which met Tuesday, also recommended that the college take steps that might help trim unnecessary spending when planning future budgets.

Each of the college’s 60 discretionary department budgets, which this year took up about $8 million, are typically rolled over without significant scrutiny into the following year’s plans. Committee members recommended that each department begin justifying their expenses when planning for a new budget.

The approach could lead to a drop in unnecessary spending, although some decisions might be tough, said Lindsay, who is not a member of the committee.

“We really think that it’s pretty imperative that we take an honest look and make sure that we take a look at our total resources and make sure we’re spending it as wisely as we can,” Lindsay said.

Many department expenses, including course materials, may be legitimate, but some costs that may have gone unnoticed in years past, could fall under the knife.

“We’re working toward transparency and understanding at the campus,” Lindsay said.

“We really look at everything in full.”

 ZAIN SHAUK covers education, business and politics. He may be reached at (818) 637-3238 or by e-mail at zain.shauk@latimes.com.

Copyright © 2019, Glendale News-Press
EDITION: California | U.S. & World