Friday, March 5, 2010

Evaluation Still Matters: A Suggestion

As the Governing Board prepares to evaluate Superintendent/President Raj K. Chopra, faculty union president Phil López offers the following suggestion in an open letter to the Board and college employees:

From: Philip Lopez

Sent: Thursday, March 04, 2010 1:30 PM

To: 'Pick Nick Aguilar'; Jorge Dominguez; Jean Roesch; Yolanda Salcido; Terri Valladolid

Cc: Fulltime Academic; Adjunct Faculty; Classified Contract

Subject: S/P evaluation: A suggestion

As part of its responsibility to evaluate the Superintendent/President, the Governing Board is attempting to create an evaluation instrument with goals that are fair, objective and measurable. Here is a suggestion:

GOAL: Every year, the Actual Ending Balance as reported in the CCFS – 311 report should be within 10 percent of the budgeted ending balance for that year.

For example, if the budgeted ending balance for fiscal year 09 – 10 is $8.133 million (which it is), then the Actual Ending Balance reported in the CCFS – 311 report that will be issued in October, 2010 should be no more than $8.946 million.

Of course, my 10 percent suggestion is just that—a suggestion. The Board could choose another number, or it could require that the actual ending balance be “reasonably close” to the projected ending balance.

And that’s precisely the point: During the past three years, the differences between projected ending balances and actual ending balances have NOT been reasonably close. On the contrary, in fiscal year 07 – 08, budget projections were off by 56 percent; in 08 – 09, they were off by 148 percent; and this year (as of 12/31/09), they are off by 86 percent.

Governing Board members believe that this year, SWC is operating on a budget deficit of nearly $6 million; however, it is a virtual certainty that this year will produce a budget surplus. In plain English, we will NOT lose money this year. Instead, we’re going to make money.

The budget drives nearly every decision made at SWC. Relatively accurate budget projections should be required of the Superintendent/President or his designee. Otherwise, we might find that we’re cutting services to our students while we’re putting taxpayer money into an unnecessarily large reserve fund, one that’s nearly three times what is recommended by the Chancellor’s Office. We might find that we’re cutting classes by nearly 20 percent at the same time we’re putting money in the bank.

Oh, wait. That’s exactly what is happening, isn’t it?

The proposal I’m offering to the Governing Board—that budget projections be reasonably close to reality—is absolutely objective and measurable. Furthermore, it is a goal, not a requirement. If the District suffered an unanticipated mid-year budget cut, or if we benefited from a sudden infusion of cash, then, of course, a Superintendent/President should not be held responsible. What this proposal will do is simple: It will ensure that budget-based decisions at SWC are based on a budget that is reasonably accurate.

Philip López
SCEA President

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