FRC board approves faculty bargaining agreement

The Feather River College Board of Trustees voted 5-0 on June 20 to approve the ratification of a collective bargaining agreement between FRC and its full-time faculty.

The college trustees also heard reports on student equity planning and the FRC Child Development Center, among other items.

Faculty bargaining agreement

“This is a very fair contract for both sides,” FRC Superintendent and President Kevin Trutna, Ph.D. told the board. “It puts students first and it’s student-friendly. The faculty members were a pleasure to work with.”

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Trutna explained the three-year agreement goes through June 30, 2022, and includes modifications to articles relative to federation rights; hours, workload and class size; leaves; a salary increase of 1.24 percent to meet the five small college’s average; an increase to the district health benefit cap of an additional 1 percent each year over the life of the agreement, providing funding is available; and professional development.

CDC preschool success

FRC’s Chief of Student Services Carlie McCarthy reported that the college’s Child Development Center (CDC) did “exceptionally well in their reviews” for the program’s self-evaluation report.

“They served 31 families this year, exceeding their service plan,” McCarthy said. “They have great teachers and they are using a new curriculum this year that Director Kinderlin Hoznour is excited about.”

She added that the center is hosting a theme summer camp for students ages 4 to 12. The camp is offering programs on science, technology, art and math.

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“The program is popular and doing well,” McCarthy said, “which says a lot about the need in our community for this kind of education-based child care.”

FRC Trustee Guy McNett reported that he and his wife, Linda, had attended the preschool’s recent “graduation” ceremony and they loved seeing the students walk down a red carpet with their diploma-certificates in hand. On each was written the student’s favorite color and what he or she wanted to be when they grew up. He encouraged other board members to visit the child development center.

“What did you tell them YOU wanted to be, Guy?” someone on the board asked with humor.

“I said I’m still working on it!” McNett quipped in reply.

Student equity planning

Michelle Petroelje, FRC’s Director of Student Success Programs, reported on the college’s student equity plan. The education code requires community colleges to promote success for all students and to measure progress in access, retention, degree and certificate completion, and students’ accomplishments in math and English completion and transfer.

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Petroelje said the equity plan helps FRC identify ways to help push students forward toward their education goals. Special focus is placed on providing equity for foster youth, students with disabilities, low-income students, veterans and students in some ethnic categories.

“As a college as a whole, we’re doing very well,” Petroelje said, citing examples that measure students’ completion of their programs, progressing in math and English so they can transfer to four-year colleges, and more.

She said FRC is considering establishing a Foster Youth Alliance program to offer the kind of support that the campus’ Gay Pride group provides. Helping African-American students access four-year college admissions and expo programs is also on tap.

With over 300 students enrolled in the Incarcerated Student Program (ISP), FRC’s offering is a model in California. FRC President Trutna said the Tahoe-Truckee Meadows Community College came to study and emulate the ISP program here.

Student Services Chief McCarthy helped explain some of the challenges that the ISP faces, in terms of equity.

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“Our incarcerated students face barriers to completing their education,” McCarthy said. “They can be moved to another facility at any time; they may be put under lockdown and have no access to any resources or their classes; they often can’t complete an entire math class, so we’ve looked at offering certificates so they can continue with their math; and when we see that there’s a risk they are not going to finish a class, we intervene and take them out so they don’t get an F.”

Program efficiencies

FRC Trustee Trent Saxton told the board he was “amazed” at the number of students participating in the ISP to further their education.

On a related note, he handed out results of research he had been conducting on FRC’s various educational program revenues and expenses. Saxton asked for additional documentation for the board members to “effectively plan for the future.”

He said he is interested to know which programs pay for themselves and he understands that some do not.

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Saxton asked the board to look at a range of questions he is posing and consider them at a future meeting. He wants to focus on how much the college may be investing in programs and degree offerings, consideration of students’ financial need, FRC resource allocations and program performance, among other issues.

One of his key inquiries was about making increased student full-time equivalent enrollments a priority to grow the college and avert or minimize deficits.

However, Saxton acknowledged that the afternoon’s discussion about the impact of Plumas County’s critical housing shortage upon student enrollment at FRC might put his concern in a different light. The board accepted his research, but took no action at the meeting.