Community college district to make tough cuts | April 12, 2013 | Mountain View Voice | Mountain View Online |

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News - April 12, 2013

Community college district to make tough cuts

Around 30 will likely lose their jobs at Foothill, De Anza

by Nick Veronin

Although good news appears to be on the horizon for higher education, the Foothill-De Anza Community College District is "not out of the woods yet." Around 30 employees, mostly classified support staff, will likely be laid off, according a top official familiar with the district's fiscal health.

Kevin McElroy, vice chancellor of business services for the district, said that with the passage of Gov. Jerry Brown's tax package, Proposition 30, the district avoided about $6 million in cuts. Foothill-De Anza officials may even see the budget increase next year, as Brown is proposing to inject the community college system with an additional $197 million in the 2013-14 school year, McElroy said.

In the meantime, the community college district is planning to eliminate a total of 61 full- and part-time staff positions, 27 faculty positions and three administrative roles, McElroy said. The district board of trustees unanimously approved the reductions at its March 4 meeting. The cuts are scheduled to go into effect June 30.

It wasn't easy to recommend that the cuts be made, McElroy said, but "because of the workload reductions from the state and just the sheer magnitude of the dollars we had to eliminate," he said the district had no other real options. This year, the district had to make up for a $5.7 million cut, he said, and even if the community college system gets an additional $197 million next year, it will be a "drop in the bucket" when that money is disbursed among all the state's 112 campuses.

But Ken Horowitz, a longtime dental hygiene and health instructor at Foothill College, said he thinks the board should have pressed the district's administration for a better plan.

"I was disappointed," Horowitz said. "They need to be more beholden to the community, instead of the administration."

As a faculty member, Horowitz said he won't be directly impacted by the cuts. Still, he said, he gets upset when he sees the district eliminating the jobs of support staff — especially because he feels the people who often get let go in cuts to support staff are the ones who are most in need of work.

"I think there's a disproportionate disparity in the people that are being cut versus the high salaries that the faculty are making," Horowitz said. "It's the people that least can afford it get cut."

McElroy said that the administration doesn't target one group of employees over another arbitrarily. He said that faculty positions that could be eliminated were eliminated. But, McElroy also pointed out, the nature of teaching positions makes them harder to eliminate than some support staff positions, which in some cases can be automated or computerized.

McElroy also noted that of the 61 positions slated to be eliminated, 28 of them are currently vacant, which means that the only 33 people are at risk of losing their jobs, as the vacant positions will just not be filled. That number drops even lower when considering that some of those employees in positions being cut will be able to move to other open positions within the district, he said.

But this shifting around of positions only reinforces Horowitz's point, he said. When all was said and done, Horowitz explained, the vast majority — 24 — of faculty positions weren't filled. The three faculty in the remaining positions up for elimination will all be able to move into other positions, at least temporarily. "There were really no faculty cuts," Horowitz concluded.

Of the three administrator positions up for elimination, only one will result in a person losing his or her job, according to McElroy.


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