Faculty union goes on record with report to trustees

Mona Hill
Staff Writer


Feather River College District’s board met Thursday, Feb. 17, and with the exception of finances, heard generally good news. However, there were a few shadows in all the sunshine.


Financial status

Chief Financial Officer Jim Scoubes told trustees that the college continues to hold the line on expenditures, which are slightly below expenditures at this time last year.

Current revenues are $5.9 million, and expenses are $6.5 million.

In January, the state began a six-month deferral of payments to colleges until July 2011. That leaves FRC with a serious cash flow problem.

Scoubes is negotiating with Umqua Bank for a line of credit. The existing Learning Resource Center line of credit would be rolled over into a general line of credit.

At issue in the negotiations is the matter of security on the loan.


Faculty federation

Mike Welser, faculty federation president and FRC business instructor, gave a detailed PowerPoint presentation discussing the ratio of full-time faculty to full-time equivalent students (FTES), salary history at FRC and academic salaries as a percentage of the annual budget.

FTES is a tool education administrators use to create a standardized measure of student populations. Because the number of credit hours varies from student to student, FTES totals do not represent the total number of students enrolled for classes at a college.

Welser reported that in 1989-90, there were 23 full-time faculty for 653 students. This year, there are 19 full-time faculty members and six coaches — who also teach classes — for an estimated 1,559 students.

Welser appeared not to include out-of-state students in his calculations, saying the state did not reimburse the college for those students. However, those students pay tuition at the rate of $220 per unit, plus an enrollment fee of $26 per unit. Nevada residents pay $42 per unit under the Good Neighbor agreement.

While those figures show student-to-teacher ratios have increased, they do not account for adjunct faculty (part-time instructors) and instructional aides and tutors.

In a later telephone conversation and e-mail, college superintendent/president Dr. Ron Taylor suggested a better indicator would be to use full-time equivalent faculty (FTEF) as a calculation tool to arrive at a more indicative student-to-teacher ratio.

Like its student counterpart, FTEF is a standardized tool arrived at by considering class size and number of classes taught.

For academic year 2009-10, FTEF at the college was 68.55 with 1,659 FTES, resulting in a student-to-teacher ratio of 24.2-to-1.

On the subject of compensation, Welser said the district ranks 66th out of 72 in compensation. FRC and the union use a Small College Average calculation in salary negotiations based on Barstow, Lake Tahoe, Lassen, Palo Verde and Siskiyous salary schedules at equivalent rankings.

Welser told trustees that most FRC full-time faculty members were “maxed out” at the last column of the salary schedule: E-18 or $77,512.

In addition to that base salary, faculty receive stipends based on how long they have been with the college, whether or not they have advanced degrees, whether they are division chairs, etc.

Taylor agreed it was not uncommon for individual faculty members to add between $5,000 and $10,000 to base salary.

Welser closed his presentation with a brief discussion of the “50 percent law” and other issues to consider.

As amended, California Education Code 84362 requires 50 percent of a district’s education expenditures be spent on academic salaries. The figure includes compensation for full- and part-time faculty, aides and tutors, as well as health and welfare benefits such as retirement and healthcare insurance.

Welser contends FRC spends just 33 percent on academic salaries, risking sanctions.

Also, by his calculations, FRC should have 45 full-time faculty, without which the college’s viability comes into question.


Trustees instruct

At Taylor’s request, trustees approved a formal notification to all represented and non-represented employees that the district reserved its right to essentially renegotiate — if necessary — salary, compensation and health and welfare benefits.

Governor Jerry Brown’s proposed budget for the coming fiscal year outlines substantial funding reductions for higher education.

The notification is a formal instruction to college administrators, not an actual renegotiation. Renegotiation depends on the state’s final budget.


Employee recognition

Trustees voted to approve tenure for Terry Baumgartner, the college’s head baseball coach, and Haley White, head women’s basketball coach. Both are also physical education instructors at the college.

Faculty, trustees and administrators lauded Baumgartner and White for their dedication to their teams and commitment to promoting student academic achievement as well as athletic achievement.

The board also approved nomination of Dottie Arcangeli for statewide consideration as Outstanding Classified Employee of the Year.

Arcangeli has been at FRC nearly 22 years as the library’s senior program assistant.

Dr. Michael Bagley, chief instructional officer, said information from Arcangeli’s supervisor and college staff showed her quality of work and level of dedication have never diminished during her years of service.

The board also accepted two donated pickup trucks from BCM Construction. Facilities director Nick Boyd said that while the well-used vehicles had “a lot of miles,” they were good for the college’s needs.


Institution research

Brian Murphy, coordinator of Institutional Research and Planning, delivered a quick summary on the state’s Accountability Reporting for Community Colleges (ARCC).

Prepared on the 2008-09 academic year, the report found FRC performed better than its peer group average and surpassed the state average in the areas of student progress and achievement for degree, certificate and transfer students; as well as student progress and achievement in the vocational, occupational and workforce development category.

The college was below the state and peer group averages in the area of student persistence.


Feather River Fitness

Athletic director Merle Trueblood reported memberships at the fitness center increased from 215 when the college took over management July 12, 2010, to 805 as of Feb. 17.

From a lengthy list of completed projects, Trueblood noted the gym is now open seven days a week, with additional weekend hours; three classes — Zumba, Kettle Bells and kickboxing — have been added.

On his to-do list, Trueblood said staff are promoting direct deposit membership payments and trying to increase corporate memberships.

He told trustees that he expected to provide complete financial information in April.


Taylor reports

In his report to trustees, Taylor said there appears to be bipartisan support in Congress for a five-year renewal of the Secure Rural Schools Act. As proposed, year one would be funded at 10 percent less than this year and decrease over the life of the extension.

He said there is some support for changing enrollment priorities to provide places for graduating high school seniors. Typically, most colleges give priority to students with more credit hours, leaving incoming freshman with little choice in class selection.

He also hopes to work with other government agencies as they review the census data and redistricting. It’s possible local district representation could change as a result of the 2010 census.

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