Saturday, October 31, 2009

There They Go Again

Once again, the editorial board of the San Diego Union-Tribune has chosen to disregard facts in order to praise their pal Chopra ("Community colleges in a vise"), but the community is answering back.

Several comments on the story attempt to set the record straight, and Phil Lopez, one of the suspended teachers, writes the following:

Your editorial “Community colleges in a vise” omits some very important facts about Southwestern College.

First, no one is proposing that we “drain college reserves” to provide classes for students. At the most recent Governing Board meeting, the public was informed that saving 429 class sections would cost anywhere from $1.3 to $1.7 million. Our current unrestricted reserves are about $11.5 million.

The State Chancellor’s Office recommends a “prudent minimum reserve” of 5%. Reserves at Southwestern College are 11.6%. Simple arithmetic reveals that this is more than twice what is recommended.

Next, your editorial states that faculty could “volunteer to take a pay cut” to help balance the budget. In 2003, faculty voted to do exactly that. However, we were inspired by the leadership of then-President Norma Hernandez who, in another bad budget year, served as Superintendent/President while receiving a Vice President’s pay.

In contrast, our current President, Raj Chopra, got an 8% pay raise last year. No one else on campus received a raise, and, in a bad budget year, we weren’t looking for one. Chopra also gets a $20,000/year housing allowance. His total compensation--salary, housing allowance, car allowance, discretionary expense account, health benefits, and retirement—totals $250,000/year.

Finally, last Spring, the Governing Board filled two vacant administrative positions. If you look at the school website, you will find that the District plans to hire four more new administrators this semester.

While it is certainly true that community colleges are “in a vise,” it is not only “militants” who are suggesting that cuts should begin from the top down, that sacrifices should be shared, or that students—the very heart of our institution—should be the last to be cut.

Philip Lopez
Southwestern College Education Association
For more details on SCEA's position on the budget and how classes and jobs could be preserved, see our earlier post A Plan to Save $2 Million.

1 comment:

  1. I'm glad we have Phil working for us!