Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Budget Stew

Who, me joke?
Recently, the SCEA (faculty union) and Vice President of Business and Financial Affairs Nicholas Alioto have challenged each others' budget interpretations. The history of this debate is covered in the
most recent issue of the Sun, and we have also published the union's view.

At the March 10 Governing Board meeting, VP Alioto presented his side of the story, at points directly challenging union claims in an exhausting, um, we mean
exhaustive PowerPoint presentation of almost 60 slides.
Alioto slams SCEA
Mr. Alioto felt this was inadequate, however, and in a campus-wide email sent on March 12, he promised a written transcript:

The link below will take you to the PDF of the presentation made at the GB meeting this week. Of course, without having been there, you cannot truly gain a full understanding so we are also working on some type of written update as well.

I can't hear you!

Although the "written update" is thus far not available, you can be treated to the
entire show, complete with voiceover. (Our apologies to the hearing impaired on VP Alioto's behalf. Apparently neither accessibility considerations nor federal law were an issue here).

SCEA responded to Alioto's report in the form of an
Informational Alert, which will make perfect sense once you endure the PowerPoint and review our earlier post.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Read All About It!

A new edition of the Southwestern College Sun is out, full of timely updates as well as head-scratching news.

Here are some of our favorites:

Hernandez, Nader, Thompson set to run: The article announces a slate of challengers for this November's Governing Board election. Former SWC Superintendent/President Norma Hernandez, former Chula Vista mayor Tim Nader, and sitting Chula Vista City Council member Mitch Thompson will be running against current board members Yolanda Salcido and Terri Valladolid. (Jorge Dominguez holds the third seat but says he won't be running again.)

No word yet on what the match-up will be, but the SCEA faculty union has endorsed the candidates and pledged PAC funding in support. Stay tuned for more news on fundraising opportunities.

Union says college is running up a surplus: Why did the college cancel 429 class sections this Spring and turn away thousands of students while it had millions in the bank? Faculty union president Phil Lopez continues to question the Board on this urgent issue.

Committees to attack probation: In a report describing the college's efforts to meet accreditation goals, Governing Board President Yolanda Salcido mysteriously blames staff on the ground for the college's problems: "There have been a lot of different board members. . . . There have been a lot of presidents. There have been a lot of administrations, but what's been here consistent is the staff and the management as well as the managers who actually do the running of the district."

Apparently, Salcido missed the part of the accreditation report that said all those folks were doing a fine job while problems clearly originated higher up the food chain. Further, Salcido denies any responsibility on the part of the board: "It's beyond what we can do up here."

We're not sure where "up here" is but suggest Salcido take a look at 7 Things Never to Say to Your Boss. And yes, Yoli, we the voters are your boss.

Finally, not reported in The Sun but definitely of note is the Continuing Revolving Door at SWC:

At a time when Southwestern College must meet multiple areas of improvement by conducting pivotal research and providing the data for the October Accreditation deadline, our Dean of Research, Evaluation, and Planning was suddenly fired by the Governing Board on March 10 with no explanation to faculty and staff.

Faculty and staff are diligently working to meet the additional workload of the Accreditation requirements and have literally had the rug pulled out from under them.

Every college must have a functioning research office to meet the demands of accreditation. Our faculty and staff have been struggling to meet Accreditation demands with no Office of Research for the last 5 years, and we once again have none.

Throughout Dr. Chopra’s first year, when he was still willing to meet with faculty, we requested that the re-establishment of a research office be a priority as it is critical for Accreditation.

He did not replace our Director of Research; instead during one of his two major reorganizations in a year, Dr. Chopra elevated the position to a Dean and added many additional non-research responsibilities. It is an undoable job now.

The current Dean had just started in Nov. last fall. It's unclear what could have happened so egregious it was worth endangering yet again our Accreditation status, but we need this key position for Accreditation here now, and an improvement plan with prioritization of tasks based on Accreditation would have made a lot more sense. What is the plan now for the research we must have by Oct. 2010?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Board Meeting Tonight!

A Work InterruptedPresentations include faculty awards:

Professional Leadership: Max Branscomb
Teaching Excellence: Jackie Thomas
Adjunct Faculty: Henry Aronson

Come celebrate SWC's best and brightest!

Then stay for what is sure to be a creative budget presentation from Nick Alioto.

The public portion of the meeting begins at 7 pm, Rm 214 on the main campus.

Meeting agenda

Sunday, March 7, 2010


VP Alioto Denies Blurting, While Student Denied Artistic Expression

The ThreeDuring last week's SWC Street Painting Festival, a student was prevented from rendering her drawing of the three professors suspended this past October.

As the student points out, the drawing (at left) is a positive representation that criticizes no one. College authorities, however, found it controversial and said that it didn't relate to the festival's theme of Women's History Month.

The student remarks: "The events that happened last October until today were and are still a part of women's history. Professor [Dinorah Guadiana-]Costa, I, and a lot of female students were there! That's a slap to a lot of people's faces."

Meanwhile, Vice President for Business and Financial Affairs Nick Alioto had no trouble exercising his right to free expression at a recent Governing Board meeting. As reported in the Southwestern College Sun, "while Trustee Nick Aguilar was speaking to reassigned time and discussing the adviser's [to the newspaper] job, Alioto blurted out, 'The guy's a fucking idiot.'"

In an email message to all faculty and staff, Alioto later offered a correction, where he denies blurting, states that Nick Aguilar is not a "fucking idiot," and apologizes to a "hypothesized" fucking idiot:

There is an inappropriate statement that I made at the board meeting to another staff member. It was certainly not blurted out. Someone, however, did overhear it and report it to others. The comment was not directed at the individuals hypothesized in the paper. I have met personally with the person it was directed at and apologized and did it the day after the meeting. I apologize for making the comment to begin with.

Thank goodness that's all cleared up!

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

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Sun Shines, and March 4th March

snuggle up and enjoy
First, the March (tomorrow, Thursday afternoon):

All across the state, students, teachers, classified professionals, and administrators will be rallying on March 4 to protest cuts to California's education budget. Locally, Southwestern College faculty, staff, students, and community members will be participating in a rally in Balboa Park. We invite--and urge--you to join us!

Event: Rally at the Balboa Park Centro Cultural de La Raza [2004 Park Blvd.] and March to the Governor’s Office in San Diego on March 4th at 3:00 pm.

  • Meet with students and teachers from all across San Diego regarding state budget decisions that affect education.

  • Get involved in a public action to show our legislators that students and teachers matter—we ARE the future!

  • Learn what you can do to better California public education.

Second, even with its funding frozen by a vindictive administration, The Sun rises still!

This installment (available online and in print) features several pieces on SWC's accreditation issues, including
a scathing editorial on the administration's role in the problem. Please read, share, and comment to show your support for our tireless Sun reporters and their advisor!