Saturday, October 24, 2009

Letter to Board from South Bay Forum President

Jose Preciado, president of the community group South Bay Forum, sent the following letter to SWC Governing Board members:

19 October 2009

Dear Board Members:

I am writing to express interest in your current business model.

As you proceed to reduce course sections, the matter of the reserve has not been fully explained. Board members and faculty have shared with me that you recently went to New York to work with someone or some groups in establishing
your credit rating. Members of the faculty have shared with me that you are not working collaboratively with them in developing policy to meet the educational mission of the campus. So, the speculation is that you have decided to maintain multiple priorities during these trying budget times and as such you have subjugated the educational mission of the campus to a secondary goal in order to maintain and expand the physical plant. In fact, some are suggesting that for some of you the physical plant is more important. What are we not understanding about your leadership of the campus that makes your board colleagues and the faculty reach out to us inviting our involvement? Questioning your motives? Making these types of claims about your priorities?

The area of inquiry then centers on your rationale for prioritizing construction bond related goals of the college during a period of time when you are experiencing unprecedented course offering reductions. Why are you unwilling to use reserves to meet the instructional budget gaps created by the state and national recessions? Should you delay any work on the bonds and construction given that you are reducing student enrollment? Why do you need physical plant expansion now--given that you are losing funds to offer coursework and you have under-utilized satellite campuses?

Our region, students, working families, and residents in general need access to the educational offerings that only your college has. So please share with us if you have decided to cut classes as a last resort. Have you chosen to protect your credit rating to sell bonds instead of reducing your reserve to bridge your instructional budget deficit? Will you consider fee increases to maintain access to the college? Bond related construction or coursework---Which comes first in your view?

Please advise.

I am copying your cheerleaders on La Prensa's Editorial Board and the San Diego Union-Tribune Editorial Board to see if they have a perspective on this.

Jose Preciado, President
South Bay Forum

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