Concerns raised about City College-Foundation pact

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By Jobert Poblete

At its meeting yesterday, the City College of San Francisco Board of Trustees discussed a new draft agreement with its fundraising arm, the Foundation of City College of San Francisco. As reported in this week’s Guardian, the foundation is seeking greater autonomy from the college. The CCSF trustees limited their discussion to proposed changes to the draft agreement, but a final decision may be reached as early as next month in advance of the foundation board's March 16 meeting.

City College trustee John Rizzo, who was part of the task force that drafted the agreement, explained that the new deal would give the foundation control of all funds except for $3 million raised by CCSF departments and faculty. Rizzo also said that the CCSF task force pushed the foundation to shift its focus from scholarships to saving classes and to operate with a level of transparency beyond the minimum required from nonprofit organizations.

Budget deficits have led to the cancellation or elimination of 1500 sections, including all 2010 summer classes, at CCSF. The draft agreement would require the foundation to consider sources and new fundraising that could be used to fund classes and programs, but trustee Steve Ngo called for a stronger commitment from the foundation to tap existing resources, including investment gains and restricted funds.

Hal Huntsman, president of the CCSF Academic Senate, presented the trustees with a resolution from the Senate's executive council recommending that the new agreement not be approved without shared governance review and approval. Huntsman also raised concerns about changes to the foundation's bylaws that would give representatives from CCSF's academic and classified senates seats on the foundation board, but with one-year terms instead of the customary three years.

Trustee Lawrence Wong raised the possibility of asking the foundation for more time to discuss the issues raised at the meeting and to allow the shared governance bodies to weigh in. Chancellor Don Griffin reiterated the need to solicit buy-in from the college's constituent bodies but called on the board to stay on schedule. “The board has spent a lot of time on these negotiations,” Griffin said. “And I think we're 99 percent of the way there.”

A committee made up of representatives from the college and the foundation will meet again this month or early March. The CCSF board may then call a special meeting to vote on the agreement in advance of the foundation board's quarterly meeting on March 16.