Assuming the rest of the district's unions receive the same 5 percent raise, the extra pay will cost the district an estimated $8 million, according to Kevin McElroy, the district's vice chancellor of business services.
The agreement ended a month-long protest by Faculty Association members over the district's unwillingness to raise salaries in May by 1.56 percent, citing uncertainty over state funding. The stalled negotiations led to a so-called "work to contract" protest, which encouraged the association's members to cease any unpaid work not explicitly required in the contract, abstain from attending events like graduation and drop advisory roles for student clubs.
Representatives of the Faculty Association did not respond to requests for comment.
McElroy told the Voice that the delay in negotiations was strictly related to touch-and-go changes to the way California plans to fund community colleges starting this year. He said the state introduced a complicated new funding formula that takes into account things like low-income students who qualify for financial aid and the number of degrees and certificates earned each year. Preliminary estimates show that many of the state's community colleges benefit from the new formula, while Foothill-De Anza stands to lose millions of dollars in annual funding.
"In my 34 years in the profession, this is probably the most ambiguous and unusual budget language that I've ever seen," McElroy said. "And it's understandable — they're trying to implement a brand new performance-based funding formula."
The breakthrough, and ultimately the reason for the negotiated pay raise, came in mid-June when the state Legislature passed the budget with trailer bill language granting relief for districts like Foothill-De Anza. Districts that stand to hemorrhage state funding under the new system will instead receive funding equal to the 2017-18 year along with a 2.71 percent increase as a cost-of-living adjustment, McElroy said.
"That was the linchpin for us," he said. "We needed to get clarity on what our funding was going to look like."
But the reprieve from budget cuts isn't expected to last forever. The trailer bill guarantees stable community college funding through the 2020-21 year, McElroy said, but it's essentially borrowed time before the new funding formula takes full effect, without the exceptions. What's more, there's nothing to prevent the Legislature and the newly elected governor from rejecting the trailer bill language as soon as next year, putting the district back in a financial bind.
The state's Legislative Analyst's Office (LAO) recommended against the three-year transition to the new funding formula, called the "hold harmless" provision, which it said could dampen the effect of Jerry Brown's move toward performance-based funding. The LAO softened its stance and recommended a one-year delay on the new funding strategy after it was abundantly clear the Legislature would have little time to review major changes prior to the budget adoption.
Early estimates showed between 18 and 20 of the state's 72 community college districts were expected to lose funding under Brown's new plan, McElroy said.
Regardless of the state's plans to rejigger community college funding, Foothill-De Anza has faced deep deficit spending in recent years despite California's budget surplus and the extraordinary growth in property values in the region. Declining enrollment is the primary culprit, and the district's 2017-18 budget was $10.3 million in the red before the state rolled out the new funding formula.
The faculty pay increase is not retroactive and applies only to the 2018-19 school year. The negotiated contract also includes a provision where part-time faculty, who will have fewer classes to teach as a result of the enrollment drop in the upcoming school year, will get paid based on the assigned teaching jobs they had in the 2017-18 year.
The school board is scheduled to approve the contract in the coming months, and the Faculty Association is expected to vote to ratify the contract in September or October.
This story contains 734 words.
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