Glendale Community College plans budget slash

This story has been corrected, see below for details.

At a hastily arranged town hall-style meeting Thursday, Glendale Community College officials announced plans to cut $13 million from the college's 2012-13 budget, regardless of the outcome of a state tax initiative that goes before voters in November.

A major part of the cost-cutting — $9 million — will come in the form of significant pay cuts for 115 classified employees, who will see their work schedules reduced by one month if the plan is approved by the board of trustees. Classified employees include non-faculty workers, such as technicians and secretaries.

One summer session will also be eliminated and staff medical benefits will be altered as part of the plan to reduce expenses.

Interim Supt./President Jim Riggs said the college is facing a “residual effect” of decisions made on the state level.

“Simply put, California's trying to do education — from pre-school all the way up to post-doctoral work — on the cheap,” Riggs said, adding later, “I'm sorry that this has had to happen.”

The $13-million figure was a major increase from the previous forecast of $8 million in needed spending reductions.

On Thursday, Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services, said the additional cuts “are going to have to come out of paychecks,” noting more than 85% of the college's budget rests in salaries and pensions.

If November's state tax initiative does not pass, Nakasone said the college will slash another $4 million.

Some employees may not be working in either January or August. Some who currently work 12 months would work 11 and others who work 11 months would work 10.

The one-month reduction means an 8.3% salary cut, said college Vice-President Mary Mirch.

During the emotionally charged meeting, Mirch quietly choked back tears at the podium as she discussed how the college has eliminated 725 class sessions since 2008.

That number doesn't include an additional 100 classes on the chopping block for this fall and the 80 others scheduled for elimination next summer. Fewer class offerings have turned registration into a gauntlet of waiting lists and frustration for students trying to graduate and move on to a four-year institution.

“We are at a base now. We can't go any lower,” Mirch said.

Some employees indicated they were left in the dark about the administration's decision to cut hours, hearing about it by word-of-mouth and not from their managers.

“I just found out yesterday,” one said at the meeting. “Why is it that I had to find out from a fellow worker?”

Saodat Aziskhanova, chief negotiator for classified employees at the college, led the initiative for the town hall meeting.

She said she wanted the college to prove there was enough slack in the workload among employees to justify the reduced hours.

“We are short enough on staff as it is,” Aziskhanova said.

But Mirch said that without students at winter and summer sessions, it “brings in the lack-of-work issue.”

“It's not what anybody wants to do, but we need to look at ensuring that the college is fiscally sound so we can continue,” Mirch said.

[For the Record, Aug. 24: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated that the pay cuts would impact faculty members. The cuts would actually impact classified staff members, which include  secretaries, computer technicians and other workers on campus. Also, Saodat Aziskhanova is the chief negotiator for classified employees, not the head of a union, as she was referred to in the story.]

Follow Kelly on Twitter @kellymcorrigan

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