Dear Faculty, Staff and Administrator Colleagues:
Yesterday Governor Jerry Brown delivered his 2011-2012 budget for the state and the California Community Colleges.
The News is Not Good
There is no other way to put it: the news from Sacramento is not good. The community college system budget will be reduced by $400 million while student fees will increase from the current $26 to $36. Grim as this is, even these cuts depend on voters approving the continuation of current temporary tax increases enacted last year, but for which these budget cuts will be deeper still. Based on the information we have received from State Chancellor Jack Scott, we estimate that the budget reduction to Pasadena City College for next year will be approximately $5 million.
There are many details to this situation. FYI I have attached the documents I have received from Chancellor Jack Scott’s office. I am sure you will hear many reports in the coming days, so I want to assure you that I will continue to convey all the information directly to you in untranslated, unvarnished versions.
I join with Chancellor Scott in vigorously fighting these cuts and fee increases and advocating for higher education as an investment not an expense. We must continue to fight the good fight in Sacramento and we will. Indeed, several of the members of our Board of Trustees and I will be going to Sacramento on January 22 to do just that. At the same time, Chancellor Scott has been clear: “These are difficult times for California and there’s no way to avoid the pain of budget cuts.”
Hope Rooted in our Recent Work
There is no way to sugar coat this situation. It’s time for us to face it squarely. There is no way for our great college to get through this situation without significant changes. But there is a way for PCC to take control of its own future so that together we can make healthy change that improves our situation for the long term. This is what our Board of Trustees decided on December 8, 2010, when it approved our Educational Master Plan. This is what our College Council decided when on December 1, 2010, it decided to establish a new and improved system of shared governance that for the first time broadened participation in decisions with two newly established college-wide committees, Budget and Resource Allocation and Enrollment Management. This is what our Academic Senate decided when it decided to take the lead with implementing the new law, SB1440, that establishes transfer associate degrees. This is what we decided together when we created the Student Access and Success Initiative, a special fund of $1M to support faculty and staff innovation in achieving the goals of the EMP.
Thoughts on Our Next Steps
First, let’s not lose our heads. You will hear many reports this week and you may even observe panic. You may feel panic yourself. Please hang in and know that no precipitous decisions are being made from on high. I am consulting regularly, even daily, with the leadership of our faculty, classified staff and managers. We will make decisions, but we will make them together. If you hear a rumor, call me: my personal cell phone is 818-207-3027. Everything will be OK as long as we keep our heads and keep working and moving forward.
Second, we should not wait until past February 22nd when our faculty colleagues return for the spring semester to begin to deliberate together and develop recommendations for the 2011-2012 budget. I am grateful to the leaders of the Academic and Classified Senates, as well PCCFA, ISSU and CSEA, for their willingness to help form our new Budget and Resource Allocation and Enrollment Management Committees and to call them into session very soon. If you are called upon to serve on one of these important committees, I ask you to make this a priority and to serve. These committees will be given all the facts I possess and will be charged with making real consensus recommendations.
Third, I am asking managers and supervisors to review their operations to plan how to deliver our services to students in the most cost-effective way possible. This may mean, for example that we will need to vigorously and more quickly pursue the technology upgrades that make such efficiencies possible.
Fourth, what sometimes goes unrecognized is that the biggest impact on our budget is the large expense we pay to offer sections to students who have not completed courses successfully and who are repeating them. This is an area where an investment actually saves money; that is why we created the Student Access and Success Initiative to support the faculty and staff in developing innovative new ways to improve course completions and thus student success.
Fifth, in this budget crisis is a revenue opportunity. Chancellor Scott recently reminded us that we have real opportunities in such areas as contract education, fee-based extended learning, international students, sponsorships and plain old fundraising. We are working hard right now on a revenue enhancement plan and we welcome your ideas and energy.
Finally, this is a time to come together as a community. And this is our time to help see PCC through to an even better place. For nearly 90 years, through the Great Depression, the Long Beach earthquake, a World War and many other challenges, PCC not only survived but thrived. It is our time as stewards of this college to bring PCC through. I know we will.
In hope and heart,
Dr. Mark W. Rocha