City College board takes first step toward scaling back its mission

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[CORRECTED BELOW] The first step was taken in changing City College of San Francisco’s educational mission at last night’s Board of Trustees meeting, a decision that would drastically alter what programs the college funds and who it serves.

The college’s mission statement is an overarching funding guideline, according to Gohar Momjian, the college’s accreditation liaison officer. She presented the mission statement workgroup’s findings to the college’s board and a packed room of faculty and students last night.

Momjian oversees the 15 workgroups responsible for addressing the major areas the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges told the school it has to rectify. A failure to do so by March 2013 could result in the revocation of the school’s accreditation, which is necessary for the college’s degrees to be recognized and for the school to receive federal funding.

Simply put, City College was tasked by the ACCJC to gets its mission in line with current fiscal realities. The workgroups, tasked with brainstorming ways to reshape the college and meet the criteria of the accreditation team’s findings, will use the new mission statement as a guide for what programs are viable, said Momjian.

So what was cut out of the new mission statement? Completion of adult high school diplomas, GED’s (which help students test out of high school), active engagement in the social fabric of the community, lifelong learning, life skills, and enrichment courses were all dropped from the revised mission statement. [[8/27 CORRECTION: Transitional Studies, which includes GEDs and basic adult education, ended up being in included in the primary mission]].

In their place was a statement making these things “conditional” on available resources. “In addition, the college offers other programs and services consistent with our primary mission, only as resources allow and whenever possible in collaboration with partnering agencies and community-based organizations,” reads the new draft statement of the college’s mission.

Essentially, the college promises to enrich the community only if the resources are available to do so. Students and faculty from classes geared towards older adults and also disabled students came out to oppose changes to the mission statement, and a loss of their funding.

“We have students that will wait 40 minutes in the rain in a wheelchair for a bus to get to class,” Disabled Students Programs and Services faculty Katherine Brown said to the board.

Shelly Glazer, faculty in the older adults program, left the board with a warning. “Here are the almost 2,000 letters written to the Student Success Task Force when they tried to cut our dollars,” Glazer said, dropping the huge stack of paper on the top of the podium. “They need your support, and you need theirs.”

Importantly, English as Second Language classes and basic skills classes were preserved in the primary mission guideline. “There are compromises made in the mission statement. There are things we can do under [better] conditions,” said Momjian in her report to the board. “That was our compromise.”

The board made a motion to approve the new draft mission statement, and voted unanimously in favor. The board will look at a second revised mission statement on Sept. 11, and take a final vote to amend the mission statement on Sept. 27. The draft mission statement can be read at the City College website here.

Forty-five problem areas were found in City College’s financial structures by a financial consulting group at the same college board meeting last night. The findings left the college board nearly speechless once the report was complete.

The Financial Crisis Management Team, known as FCMAT, was paid for by the state community college chancellor’s office and assigned to City College to help it review its finances. This was good timing with the recent accreditation troubles, but officially has no connection to the recent accreditation team visit or with any direction from the state chancellor’s office, FCMAT Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree told the college board.

Plumbtree and her associate Mike Hill made the presentation to the board on behalf of the four members of the “financial SWAT team,” as they’ve been dubbed by the board in the past. The report it gave to the board that night was only the tip of the iceberg.

“The report itself is going to be in the realm of 65 pages. There are about 45 specific recommendations,” said analyst Mike Hill. “But we do want to give you a sense of some of our observations first, and some of our recommendations grouped together.”

The hit list was read in a bullet point fashion, and as he rattled off each of the findings, the silence in the room deepened:

  • The district has made a cost structure over time that can't be sustained in this economy.
  • The district opted for short term solutions.
  • Employee contracts have been made without long-term analysis.
  • Decision making has been made by power and political whim rather than logic and fairness.
  • The conduct of key leaders and the culture within the district have greatly diminished the role and the effectiveness of the management team.
  • The district lacks data to assess sites.
  • The district supports much more faculty than its closest peers.
  • There's a history of maintaining a small fund balance, with 90-92 percent of the budget being committed to salary and benefits, the college needs to make adjustments.
  • The department chair structure is not cost effective nor administratively sound.
  • We're recommending a reduction in full time faculty through attrition.
  • We're recommending the district not subsidize categorical programs, and that current subsidies be reassessed (the state cut funding for some categorical programs, like the second chance program, and City College has been eating that cost to the tune of around $20 million a year, according to AFT 2121 president Alisa Messer).
  • Consider either elimination of department chairs or diminish them while empowering deans and giving them the ability to act.”

“There's a lot there, it covers a lot of territory, and you need to see the context and data and analysis in order to have informed questions, or else you'll be spinning our wheels,” Hill said to the stunned board.

Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree concluded by cautioning the board against inaction. “The circumstances the district found itself did not happen overnight, decisions made over many years brought you here,” she said. “You're going to have to move quicker than you want to, but that's what's needed.”

“Some of these things are new to me, but some of these things have come up in work groups. Some of these things are things we've known for years,” board President John Rizzo said after the report concluded. Financial administrators at City College declined to comment before the release of the full report. The 65-page final report will be made public on Sept. 18, and given to the college board a few days before that, Plumbtree said.

The City College Board of Trustees motioned to delay one of their most controversial votes at last night’s board meeting.

The board hopes to bring in a “special trustee,” who would be provided by the state, to help guide them through their recent accreditation woes. A special trustee is not simply a guide. A special trustee has veto power over the college board, giving the trustee unilateral decision making powers, according to college officials that night.

Most of the board welcomed the notion of outside help. The board has asked for $1.5 million dollars in cuts that never got made, Rizzo said, arguing for the need for the special trustee.

“It’s an enormous wealth of expertise that we do not have...We need someone from the outside to tell us where that mistake was made,” Rizzo said.

Trustee Chris Jackson wasn’t sure that the board had full knowledge of what it was asking. “I support a special trustee, but I have questions...How long would a trustee be here? What’s the process of asking them to leave?” Jackson asked, to the applause of the audience.

It was student Trustee William Walker who clarified the students’ position. He had a meeting with students the previous day, and they strongly disagreed with bringing in a special trustee to help run the school.

Given the history of special trustees in college districts, it's not surprising why. A report by the LA Sentinel shows the discord brought by one special trustee to the Compton community college district, also facing accreditation woes. To read a report of Compton College’s and how it mirrors City College, check out the Guardian report “Saving City College.”

Special trustee Dr. Genethis Hudley-Hayes, was removed from her position as special trustee by State Community College Chancellor Jack Scott last September, according to the Sentinel article. The article cites multitudes of complaints against her by the community, who wrote a six page letter to Gov. Jerry Brown and Scott asking for Hayes’ removal.

“Who do you serve and why are you here?” Associated Students President Shanell Williams said to the board during its public comment session. “It’s shameful... If you can’t make decisions without a special trustee, then we need a new board.”

Student Kitty Lui said that the board’s decision to bring in a special trustee would undercut the democratic will of the community.
“If you don’t know how to move forward, I don’t know why you’re still here,” she said.

Despite students’ objections, if the board does not choose a special trustee, the likelihood is that one will be imposed on them, Jackson said. The board ultimately decided to shelve the decision until a special meeting on Sept. 11.

Interestingly, the “financial SWAT team,” FCMAT, thinks that a special trustee is a good idea. “To have an outside expert is always good,” FCMAT Chief Analyst Michelle Plumbtree told The Guardian. “Sometimes, you’re just too close.”

Comments

ESL gets preserved but GED and continuing education get axed. Way to prioritize resources for people who are not yet here while stiffing those who have paid taxes here their whole lives and have to face a labor market that is even more brutally unforgiving as we age.

Posted by marcos on Aug. 24, 2012 @ 5:25 pm

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Posted by Skaufjwikh on Aug. 24, 2012 @ 7:48 pm

Hey Joe,

I just wanted to correct the article that you posted on the Guardian Blog. You stated that "So what was cut out of the new mission statement? Completion of adult high school diplomas, GED’s".

Actually I fought at the last meeting (last wek) to put Transitional Studies back into the primary mission statement and it was put back in the primary mission of City College. Transiional Studies is Basic Adult Ed, GED and High School Diaplima. If you could please write a correction that would be great. I would hate for potiential Transitional Studies (GED) students to look elsewhere becuase of this article.

Thanks,

Chris Jackson
Member, Board of Trustees
San Francisco City College

Posted by Chris Jackson on Aug. 25, 2012 @ 2:30 am
+1

+1

Posted by marcos on Aug. 25, 2012 @ 6:53 am

My mistake. I alerted my editor and hopefully we can get it fixed ASAP

Posted by Joe on Aug. 25, 2012 @ 7:55 am

Yes, Thanks to Trustee Chris Jackson and support from others, Transitional Studies was included in the 4th bullet of the mission which is to offer Basic Skills including English as a Second Language and Transitional Studies which teaches non credit basic skills class that helps students to finish their high school diplomas, complete their GED and/or prepare for work or college credit classes. Please do rectify.

Posted by Maria Rosales Uribe on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 1:17 pm

'Who do you serve and why are you here?” Associated Students President Shanell Williams said to the board during its public comment session. “It’s shameful... If you can’t make decisions without a special trustee, then we need a new board.”
Also please note, the Trustee's have had 6 years to correct the list of known outnesses, they only jumped when faced with the possibility of a shutdown.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 25, 2012 @ 7:04 pm

The claim that Department Chairs are not cost effective or structurally sound is suspect. The budget books for the past two fiscal years show department chairs being very cost effective. In fact, for the 38 years of the Department Chair Council's existence, this structure has been lauded by various Chancellor's and senior administration as the "cheapest date possible" to operate the college. Now, 38 years later why the sudden change? I look forward to seeing the written report and analysis to learn more about reasons for this dramatic change in position.

Currently Department Chairs report to "School Deans" (similar to Divisional Deans in other districts). Deans report to Vice Chancellors. Vice Chancellors report to the Chancellor. If everyone along this reporting path does their job, things run smoothly and efficiently. Perhaps the question to ask here is: "Where are the weaknesses in the reporting line?". CLUE: it's *not* the Department Chairs. They are the front line and lowest level administrators at the college who follow directions given from administrators up the reporting line in a very timely manner --- even when Chairs sometimes question the wisdom of directions given.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 1:08 pm

The suggestion that Department Chairs be removed or diminished from the College structure is ludicrous. The Chairs provide service to the College that no other entity is capable of. This tactic was announced on the first day of our interim chancellor's arrival, so it's no surprise that it turned up in their report at the trustee's meeting in spite of FCMAT agreeing in work sessions that the body of chairs did not cost the college as much as it had originally thought.

The Chairs provide service to students and the community that no other level of administration can provide. They are on the front lines of the work force every teaching classes, doing community service, connecting students to jobs, advising and counseling students and instructors, advising deans, the list is endless. Anyone that thinks that Department Chairs are not worth their weight in gold should read the DCC contract job description.

Yes the Chairs speak up when they know that bad decisions are being made. They do so without the fear of losing their jobs unlike deans. Yes they are a thorn in the side of some Trustees because they have opposed some of the bad decisions that have been made. Mistakes that have cost the college millions. Yes the interim Chancellor wants them gone because she wants to be able to fire people when she isn't getting her way.

Nearly everyone that has worked at CCSF knows that if the Chancellor leaves, if the deans leave, if all the vice chancellors leave, the school would continue. If the Chairs are not there the school will fail.

Chairs are the only level of administration that produces FTE's that help to fund the college. Nearly every other entity at the college costs money.

I do hope good decisions are made when cuts at the college are considered, some are inevitable. To eliminate the Department Chairs is not only a huge mistake for the Students, and the College it's also Union Busting and totally illegal.

Posted by Guest Dedicated Veteran of CCSF on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 5:38 pm

The suggestion that the Department Chairs be eliminated at CCSF is Ludicrous. Department Chairs are the only administrative entity at City college that has direct contact with Students and produce FTE's that help fund the College. The majority of the people that work at the College know that the Chairs are worth their weight in Gold considering the endless and tireless service that they provide to the College and the community. If every other level of administration went away the school would survive. If the Chairs go away the school would fail.

Some Trustees don't like the Chairs because they have opposed their bad decisions that have cost the college millions. The Interim Chancellor doesn't like Chairs because she can't fire them when she doesn't get her way. The State Chancellor doesn't like Chairs because they spoke out against his pet project the Student Success Task Force.

To eliminate the Department Chairs would not only cause the college to fail it would also be totally Illegal.

Posted by Dedicated Veteran of CCSF on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 6:01 pm

Well, it's clear from the comments thus far that the Department Chairs feel stung by the FCMAT overview and what the Interim CCSF Chancellor has indicated.

Good.

* Department Chairs at City College have NO HISTORY of supporting institutional and educational reform at the college. Reform of graduation requirements was staunchly opposed by Professor Mueller in the Music Department. Implementation of AA/AS majors was opposed by Professor Alioto who has been President of the Department Chairs Council for decades. The DCC was silent throughout the development of critical reforms in the Basic Skills Initiative.

* The DCC leadership uses their reassigned time to dominate critical CCSF committees. Administrators such as deans have limited numbers of positions on committees. But members of the DCC, even though they are administrators and have a separate bargaining unit, face no such limitations.

* While full and part-time faculty at CCSF have not received a raise in more than 5 years, the DCC managed to score an 8.7% COST OF LIVING INCREASE to their department chair stipends in 2009.

* While full and part-time faculty wages have stagnated, the DCC has managed to increase their stipend payments from 20 to 26 payments per year over the last three years. This, their contract claims is because of "additional workload" and "increasing demands for supervision during summer months." (See Article 15.B of the contract at https://www.ccsf.edu/Offices/Employee_Relations/PDF/2009-2013-CBA_Amende...)

THE NET EFFECT IS THAT DEPARTMENT CHAIRS' STIPENDS HAVE INCREASED MORE THAN 40% FROM 2009 TO THE PRESENT.

* "Dedicated Veteran of CCSF" claims that "If every other level of administration went away the school would survive. If the Chairs go away the school would fail." Talk about denial. THE SCHOOL HAS FAILED AND CONTINUES TO FAIL. It has failed the most fundamental peer review that 97% of all community colleges have passed in California. The Financial Audit team--independent of the accrediting agency findings--points out that financially the school has operated in completely untenable ways for years.

The Department Chairs Council is at the heart of what is failing and will continue to fail at the college.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

Well, it's clear from the comments thus far that the Department Chairs feel stung by the FCMAT overview and what the Interim CCSF Chancellor has indicated.

Good.

* Department Chairs at City College have NO HISTORY of supporting institutional and educational reform at the college. Reform of graduation requirements was staunchly opposed by Professor Mueller in the Music Department. Implementation of AA/AS majors was opposed by Professor Alioto who has been President of the Department Chairs Council for decades. The DCC was silent throughout the development of critical reforms in the Basic Skills Initiative.

* The DCC leadership uses their reassigned time to dominate critical CCSF committees. Administrators such as deans have limited numbers of positions on committees. But members of the DCC, even though they are administrators and have a separate bargaining unit, face no such limitations.

* While full and part-time faculty at CCSF have not received a raise in more than 5 years, the DCC managed to score an 8.7% COST OF LIVING INCREASE to their department chair stipends in 2009.

* While full and part-time faculty wages have stagnated, the DCC has managed to increase their stipend payments from 20 to 26 payments per year over the last three years. This, their contract claims is because of "additional workload" and "increasing demands for supervision during summer months." (See Article 15.B of the contract at https://www.ccsf.edu/Offices/Employee_Relations/PDF/2009-2013-CBA_Amende...)

THE NET EFFECT IS THAT DEPARTMENT CHAIRS' STIPENDS HAVE INCREASED MORE THAN 40% FROM 2009 TO THE PRESENT.

* "Dedicated Veteran of CCSF" claims that "If every other level of administration went away the school would survive. If the Chairs go away the school would fail." Talk about denial. THE SCHOOL HAS FAILED AND CONTINUES TO FAIL. It has failed the most fundamental peer review that 97% of all community colleges have passed in California. The Financial Audit team--independent of the accrediting agency findings--points out that financially the school has operated in completely untenable ways for years.

The Department Chairs Council is at the heart of what is failing and will continue to fail at the college.

Posted by Guest on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 11:14 pm

Well, it's clear from the comments thus far that the Department Chairs feel stung by the FCMAT overview and what the Interim CCSF Chancellor has indicated.

Good.

* Department Chairs at City College have NO HISTORY of supporting institutional and educational reform at the college. Reform of graduation requirements was staunchly opposed by Professor Mueller in the Music Department. Implementation of AA/AS majors was opposed by Professor Alioto who has been President of the Department Chairs Council for decades. The DCC was silent throughout the development of critical reforms in the Basic Skills Initiative.

* The DCC leadership uses their reassigned time to dominate critical CCSF committees. Administrators such as deans have limited numbers of positions on committees. But members of the DCC, even though they are administrators and have a separate bargaining unit, face no such limitations.

* While full and part-time faculty at CCSF have not received a raise in more than 5 years, the DCC managed to score an 8.7% COST OF LIVING INCREASE to their department chair stipends in 2009.

* While full and part-time faculty wages have stagnated, the DCC has managed to increase their stipend payments from 20 to 26 payments per year over the last three years. This, their contract claims is because of "additional workload" and "increasing demands for supervision during summer months." (See Article 15.B of the contract at https://www.ccsf.edu/Offices/Employee_Relations/PDF/2009-2013-CBA_Amende...)

THE NET EFFECT IS THAT DEPARTMENT CHAIRS' STIPENDS HAVE INCREASED MORE THAN 40% FROM 2009 TO THE PRESENT.

* "Dedicated Veteran of CCSF" claims that "If every other level of administration went away the school would survive. If the Chairs go away the school would fail." Talk about denial. THE SCHOOL HAS FAILED AND CONTINUES TO FAIL. It has failed the most fundamental peer review that 97% of all community colleges have passed in California. The Financial Audit team--independent of the accrediting agency findings--points out that financially the school has operated in completely untenable ways for years.

The Department Chairs Council is at the heart of what is failing and will continue to fail at the college.

Posted by CCSF Observer on Aug. 26, 2012 @ 11:25 pm

What's interesting to me is that none of the folks arguing on either side for the department chairs have provided their names, even first names.

If you have a statement to make about department chairs, which is looking like an interesting story, please email me: fitzthereporter@gmail.com.

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Aug. 28, 2012 @ 10:24 am

The notion of a college without a strong, central Department Chair structure is a foolish idea and another example of the lunacy current trends push in advocating form over content ( excuse me if the guest responsible for chastising chairs in a former letter does not understand the assertion. It is rooted on Platonic epistemology and before discarding the comment, said guest might want to do some ACADEMIC research. )Therein, by the way, lies one major problem with the anti-chair perspective. The chairs, after all, represent different branches of knowledge and it is essential individuals charged with directing departments have considerable acumen in the areas of knowledge affected by administrative decisions. Not wanting to waste the time explaining, the concept should not be too hard to figure out.

On the other hand, as many are swept away in the current tide of reform lead by malicious opportunists, phony review exercises, artificial catastrophe, SLO exercises and intellectual / artistic mediocrity unleashed on the College by the ACCJC ( under the umbrella of the WASC corporation - which hilariously claims to be non profit) and with the cooperation of a few high level smooth operators
( representing both appointed and elected officials) all of the designated phenomena should come to a halt until the legality of ACCJC and WASC actions and the actions of involved administrators have been settled.

In the ACCJC CCSF "review" process, few are aware expenses generated by the ACCJC and related constituencies - from paper clips to airfare - are shouldered by CCSF. Is anyone naive enough to think that while students are condemned to scrounge through dumpsters and faculty/staff/programs are thrown under buses all of the coteries affiliated with the ACCJC and its operations are eager to share their expense reports, budgets, and reimbursement documents? Is anyone naive enough to think visiting individuals participating in the mandated CCSF review stay at a Motel 6 while visiting CCSF? The secrecy with which public information seems to be guarded by WASC and the ACCJC , at least thus far, is disturbing and before any of ACCJC's or WASC's acts, conclusions, and mandates are given legitimacy, the legal standing of WASC and the ACCJC in terms of everyday operations should first be settled since serious questions regarding those matters have arisen. Who knows? perhaps said entities may come through fiscal review with shining colors? On the other hand, perhaps not?

The public - the common everyday San Franciscans Milton Marx worked for -
have the right to know whether or not ACCJC's and WASC's financial operations are free of corruption, contortion, excessive self interest, etc. WHERE IS KAMALA HARRIS? PLEASE KAMALA, step in and lend a hand before ACCJC, WASC, and their puppets do more damage to what has been an exemplary academic and community institution in the United States. Save us from the positions of mediocrity and institutional fascism those intoxicated with their own authority advocate. Lumina recently gave WASC a handsome sum. Is it a surprise that staffing expenses at WASC are on the rise? Lumina itself issued a statement indicating bureaucratic gluttony was not among the ambitions it advocates.

Posted by Guest on Sep. 01, 2012 @ 1:46 pm

So far no one has signed their name but certainly one post named two of 60 department chairs accusing these two professors of somehow obstructing progress. As someone who has long observed the CCSF goings-on it's my view that there is a relatively small group of faculty (maybe 7 or 8) who have very strong and sometimes minority positions that include some worthwhile ideas who consistantly circumvent long-established process for proposing reform and change. Instead these faculty team up with students and create very emotional drama to get their way, sometimes apparently even arranging to pay students to participate. While the ideas are sometimes sound and worth adopting, the emotionally charged drama and anger that inevitably accompanies these proposals causes all manner of unrest throughout the institution. A more collegial and respectful approach would go a long way to a better process and much better outcome. Some department chairs indeed complain and take issue with the disruption to programs and classes. Also I have verified that it is true that the Department Chair Council is a long-established bargaining unit (union) that is 38 years old. It is much less expensive than hiring highy paid administrators to do this same work. To suggest that Department Chairs be eliminated is essentially taking an anti-labor position.... Some migt call this unIon busting?i

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2012 @ 9:02 pm

The salary increase referred to in one of the comments above refers to a "stipend", not a salary increase. Department chairs are paid a very modest stipend for many hours of extra administrative work. The so-called "raise" mentioned earlier increased the average department chair annual stipend total to $7000. This amount is divided by 12 months and paid over a 12 month period just as faculty salaries are paid. Though chairs duties have increased substantially, they had not received any stipend increase whatsoever for a decade (unlike faculty, staff and administrators) and were the last to receive relief. A gradual increase was initiated in 2006 and was only recently received after many years of waiting. This was 8.5% of a very small amount of stipend in the first place. It is unfortunate that the earlier commenter failed to mention that important info....perhaps the person is unaware of the small annual amount involved?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 03, 2012 @ 9:27 pm

I recognize the writing style/tone of a few of these posts, and based on past experiences, have a pretty good idea of who wrote most of them (on both sides).

The future of City College is at stake, I would hope folks could be more straightforward and honest. Hiding identities on a comment board... or when calling into a radio show... or in anonymous blog posts... is really such a shame.

Though many of you on both sides have valid arguments. it really does detriment to all dialogue when hiding behind the anonymous veil of the internet. It contributes to the vitriol of the dialogue... open identities create civil tones.

I'm not taking sides or commenting on the factual veracity of either argument. I'm just saying... the tone would likely be different if you were forward about who you were.

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Sep. 03, 2012 @ 10:53 pm

Who is JF?

Posted by Guest on Sep. 04, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

JF is the author of this news article.

Posted by Joe Fitzgerald on Sep. 04, 2012 @ 8:45 pm

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