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Category Archives: PGM Committees

The Fall Plenary Session

Dear Colleagues:

I did my homework and so the Plenary Session made lots of sense to me.  There’s a lot in this post, and most of you will want to skim it until an item catches your eye – everyone is affected by the changes of the last year – and the upcoming changes.  I am in no way expert on the resolutions or work of our State Academic Senate, but I did get to:

1.  (briefly) meet our new State Chancellor, Dr. Brice Harris, and listen to him speak.

Impressions:  He’s very open and definitely knows how to work with faculty.  His mission (as it should be with all Chancellors) is to empower the community colleges.  He is one of our main voices vis-á-vis the state legislature; it is through our resolutions that we advise him of our positions.

2.  Attend a mini-version of the Leadership Conference, which was very helpful.

3.  Meet our State Exec Board and confer with Wheeler North (our state expert on procedure) on our recent issue involving a 6-2 vote in our Senate, and whether that passed the motion or not (it did – I’ll be reporting at Senate and perhaps blogging about that; my initial intuition was correct but Wheeler lacked my hesitancy because he really knows his stuff about procedure).

4.  Meet most of the rest of the Exec Board and many of our State level Senators (what amazing people they are).

5.  Meet people from all around the State and have many conversations about so many things, all of which was extremely helpful;  Moorpark and Ventura are the two other colleges I know best, but they are not (by any means) the only two other colleges in this great state!

6.  Go to break-outs on various issues (Minimum quals, Program discontinuance, Accreditation and much more) and vote on resolutions regarding our future.  In particular, there were three resolutions regarding Math and its role in blocking/impeding the pathway of California Community College students, particularly those who are Black or Hispanic (or, viewed from another perspective:  those of lower socioeconomic status).  While there was absolutely no solution to the problem offered, the problem is clearly looming large and so many factors enter into it.  English is in a much better situation (not so much of a bottleneck).

In the process, I learned a lot about how to use our local Senate to meet our needs, to protect and improve programs (good Program Evaluation processes are key), and how to avoid some major pitfalls that would certainly result in warnings or worse from WASC.

Indeed, our new PEPR form (under revision by PEPC) adds an absolutely essential ingredient, one that the accrediting commission will certainly be looking for in the next round:  some sort of evaluation of programs/faculty in terms of compliance with SLO’s.

Did you know that in some districts and colleges, Boards of Trustees and Chancellors are advocating that compliance with SLO rules be added to a faculty’s formal evaluation process?  Further, did you know that in some colleges and districts, having bad evaluations can be a cause for termination?  Neither is true in our District (we have a GREAT union; thank you, local AFT 1828).  I learned that in many areas, the union and the Senate overlap and must work together, and it is way better to do that amongst ourselves than to allow Chancellors and/or Boards to impose conditions upon us.  We are fortunate to have both a Board and a Chancellor (right now) that wants us to do just that (work things out among ourselves).  I’d say that about half the colleges I know about are in the same happy boat with us, and about half are in the unhappy boat.

Both the ASCCC and the AAUP stand firmly against any such interference from administration in our academic affairs, in our classrooms.  At the same time, the law is clear:  we must give proof of results (learning outcomes).  As standardized tests become more and more the route to external evaluation, we can resist this trend only by inventing meaningful local processes of evaluation.

Evaluating a program as to its collection of data about SLO’s and its general improvement of standards is quite different than evaluating an individual faculty person.  We hope that the second thing will never come to pass (how long we can hold off on that is anyone’s guess, it’s certainly something that many members of the general public want to see happen).  This year, you will be expected to provide a lot more detail about your program’s SLO’s (made easy, we hope, by eLumens – if you’ve stayed on track in eLumens it will be very easy indeed).  Naturally, you’ll want to complain about the extra analysis and narrative (if you are a lead faculty person – the rest of you can relax), but keep in mind that the alternative (having it added to that evaluation form during our next contract negotiations) is not at all a better solution.  It is the worst solution.

I also learned that there are a host of other areas where faculty are going to be expected to implement change:

7.  Professional Development has new issues that we need to address, including issues regarding protection of Sabbaticals (oddly, release time for Senate is not under scrutiny in the same way; right now it’s general Professional Development and Sabbaticals that are under scrutiny).

8.  Every campus is pondering its ratio of CTE to Transfer to Basic Skills courses and every campus has difficulties in this area.  There are no clear guidelines or precedents, it really is up to the local colleges, their planning bodies, and their administration.  In the absence of clear guidelines from PBC, we can continue to expect our administrators to solve our local planning on their own.  We need to make PBC a strong planning group and give it a way of airing these issues among faculty.  Yes, there’s a possibility for contention (that’s not a bad thing, by the way), but it should not be “management vs. faculty” over these issues.  It should not be CTE Dean vs. Liberal Studies Dean.  It should be faculty, amongst themselves, making recommendations (and where needed, giving minority reports, as clearly, a purely democratic process or majority rule will not resolve the intellectual and value problems that are currently in front of us).

On this same topic, I learned about a lot more variables than I had ever thought about before.  That’s what happens when you stick 50 involved faculty in one room, with leaders who are well prepped, and then have a long, fairly well moderated conversation.  Most of us sat silently and let people who had done research or a lot of thought have the floor.  It was overwhelming to be packed with 16 hours or so of such knowledge but I am getting used to it.  For an anthropologist, there’s a lot to notice.  But at the Senate, there’s no difference betwen CTE and non-CTE, Counselors or Instructors, Basic Skills and Transfer, etc.

9.  Every State mandate is underfunded, but unless a campus can show dire fiscal emergency (which can in turn jeopardize accreditation, as we are learning from the San Francisco City College situation) the campus still has to comply.  The question of what is an Ed Plan and who can sign off on one is hotly debated.  There were no resolutions regarding this question.  Here are the various personnel currently signing off on Ed Plans (which come in two flavors:  regular and comprehensive, only a regular ed plan is mandated by the Student Success Act):

Counselors (all varieties)

Counseling assistants (classified personnel)

Instructional Faculty (lots and lots of instructional faculty advisement, to the point that some instructional faculty want their union contracts to reflect this as a new category of work).  In our case, if instructional faculty are advising (and they are, particularly about AA-T’s in their own fields), we would have to decide firstly whether this was an ordinary office hour activity (which it appears to be), and whether our office hours will be sufficient in the future for this task as the TMC rolls out; and secondly, whether excess hours in advisement count toward our 87.5 or whatever that number is of extra hours per semester).

10.  Transfer Model Curriculum, its impact, etc.  Obviously, not everyone is going to have TMC.  What does this mean for everyone else?  As new legislation goes forward, enumerating (for example) that “the 50 most popular courses in the State shall do X” or “the 20 most popular majors shall do Y”, we need to realize that whether we like it or not, the State is mandating divisions on campus.  Traditional, non-AA granting CTE programs are well advised to have certificates, and low unit certificates are in our future.  We did pass a resolution regarding the advisability of low unit certificates, but with no numbers regarding what constitutes a low unit certificate.  Whether these can actually be transcripted is another issue, one that the State Chancellor’s Office will now be asked to weigh in upon.  Certainly, you can’t expect to have a 3 unit certificate!  Some colleges/districts are so far ahead of us on this one, it’s obvious that their Scorecards (we all have Scorecards now) will give them higher grades than OC will get.  New certificates at OC need to be budget neutral (we’re not talking new classes, necessarily, but if so, certainly that means an older class will have to be less frequent in rotation).  Keep in mind that if your certificate is CTE, it has to follow the program review and other requirements for CTE – regardless of host discipline.  Not all certificates are CTE (Peace Studies, Non-Violence Studies are not, to my knowledge, whereas Conflict Resolution studies is a CTE certificate that enables a person to begin a career pathway as a mediator).

It seems very likely that the UC system will soon look at TMC the same way the CSU’s do.  There is a strong movement to get rid of the “preference for local students” at the CSU and UC levels (coming from community college instructors).  We passed a resolution asking the State AS to investigate the impact of changing this incredibly important aspect of our current transfer model.  Only one person spoke to the issue of “many students can’t afford any college but their local one” but I am certain that issue will be brought up again if this resolution is brought back in a stronger form (and I believe it will be).  This would have enormous impact on Oxnard College students (if they no longer got preference at CSUCI, for example).  In the meantime, we need to remember that while it is likely that CSUCI and CSUN will not disallow our regular AA degrees for transfer, they may certainly decide to give preference to those possessing an AA-T or AS-T.  If we combine these various matriculation requirements in a bundle, we can foresee a future in which CSUCI might retain a preference for OC students (using our AA-T’s and AS-T’s that they’ve agreed to) but only if we lobby for it and actually produce enough AA-T’s and AS-T’s.  The State Senate affirmed the right of every local college to continue to award AA’s and AS’s of its own choosing, including maintaining dual degrees (both an A.A. and an A.A.-T in the same subject).  This is in light of many colleges (often under pressure from administration) to end their local AA’s as soon as the AA-T is in place.  Sometimes, though, it is faculty themselves who decide to end the AA in a discipline as soon as the AA-T is in place (for the obvious reason that with many subjects, if you’re not clearly planning to transfer, you might as well choose another major or for the reason that it is overall cheaper and faster for a student and therefore more likely for a student to succeed if they do the AA-T or AS-T).  We will be deciding this for OC, so stay tuned.

Why keep an AA, you might ask?  Well, those students take Health Education and Physical Education (that’s the main difference) and may also take more electives.  They are spending their financial aid money (if they’re on financial aid) at a faster rate than the current financial aid model allows, so should we encourage that?  Please keep in mind that 30-35% of OC’s students are not on the kinds of financial aid that limit units so severely – so we need to serve them too.  What if a student wants the old style degree (for whatever reason)?  Both degrees transfer (but one may give a student a leg up in an increasingly crowded transfer situation – and that’s the AA-T or AS-T).  Moorpark has, I believe, elected to remove the AA once the AA-T is in place.  It makes for a cleaner catalog and a clear path to transfer.  It also makes disciplines “look” different – only 20 disciplines will have AA-T’s.  I think we need to wait until students understand the changes more thoroughly – and, as a second result from attending plenary, I believe that we have a central and all-encompassing agenda item to consider:

How do we keep students aware of and abreast of all these changes?  

Remember how the principal used to come on the intercom in high school and announce all kinds of things?  The portal is supposedly doing that now (I think it is a weak substitute for the human voice).  Many faculty are claiming that they don’t have in-classroom time (or the knowledge) to teach their students about articulation, transfer pathways, financial aid and so much more.  I think there are many, many solutions to this (and that with just a tiny amount of creativity – such as moving one quiz online or using clickers for roll call or whatever else you can think of, you all can find the time to teach your students about transfer and career pathways, or to have someone else come into your classroom to help you teach them).  Naturally, we also need student workshops, tutorials in the library, posters (most colleges have so many more posters up than we do!), portal announcements, widgets on D2L homepages, better use of webpage – on and on.  We need better connections to the ASG.  We need to put some things at the top of our syllabi that perhaps we have not thought to prioritize before (and go over them on the first day of class).  We need to encourage students to use our office hours to learn more about transfer and career pathways.  

Well, that’s it for now from the plenary.  Most everyone I talked to found the plenary to be exhausting (we were working on a Saturday on a holiday weekend, of course); most people who are new are working 7 days a week and long hours (it was good to know I’m not the only person who has devote an excessive amount of time to learning the ropes).  It’s Sunday and I’m thinking maybe I’ll relax a bit before the Accreditation team arrives bright and early Tuesday morning…maybe play some ping pong.

 

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The Brown Act

Several people have suggested to me that the recent “suspension” of the Brown Act by the California Legislature means local educational boards and governance entities do not have to follow it.  I do not agree with that interpretation.  For one thing, the Brown Act is a federal issue, and for another, the California bill did not suspend the act – it suspended funding for local agencies that had been receiving funds to help implement the act.

Further, both the Ed. Code and Title V have similar provisions for transparency in public education.  The main intent of all of this is to make sure meetings are open and no one can be turned away, asked to involuntarily sign in, or be “vetted” in any way in order to attend and  listen/view the meeting.  These are values I strongly believe in, as do the members of the Oxnard College Academic Senate and Oxnard College Administration, as they agreed to follow these principles in our manual of shared governance.

Having said that, the Legislature is recognizing that funds are lacking for the actual staff and resources to comply with the Brown Act.  Yes, that’s how bad it is, budget wise.

But in researching the Brown Act, rather obsessively, for the last few days, I learned some very interesting things.

Indoor bulletin boards in regular office buildings are a NO-NO

Posting on an indoor bulletin board of any kind, while nice, does not meet the requirements of the Brown Act unless that building is open and accessible to the public 24 hours a day for the 3 days prior to the meeting.  24 hours a day.  Not 8 or 9 or 12 hours.  It can be a window that’s visible from outside.  It is good practice to include at the bottom of every agenda exactly where the place should be.  Our own VCCCD Board of Trustees (Patty Blair is an expert in this, btw, if you have questions), has a glassed in bulletin board outside the building, which is accessible 24 hours a day.  They post in advance of the 72 hours (good job, VCCCD BOT).

This is an easy fix.  Any kiosk will do.  Post as low as needed for a seated person in a wheelchair to read it.  The kiosk is probably best located near to where the meeting is going to be held.  Windows are okay, too – and probably more likely to be seen.  We’ll have to talk about that.

Now, this sounds primitive.  Everyone and their brother knows that what we really do is post on the internet.  That’s perfectly okay as long as you also post in a totally FREE spot (the internet costs money; libraries aren’t open 24 hours a day, etc., etc).  

Some people think that California’s AB 1344 makes it okay to JUST use an online posting.  Nope.  What it says is that if the posting body (in this case, our Academic Senate) has its own webpage (we don’t), then we CAN post there IN ADDITION to posting in the free, publicly available space.  Here is what AB 1344 amended:

SEC. 8. Section 54954.2 of the Government Code is amended to read:

54954.2. (a) (1) At least 72 hours before a regular meeting, the legislative body of the local agency, or its designee, shall post an agenda containing a brief general description of each item of business to be transacted or discussed at the meeting, including items to be discussed in closed session. A brief general description of an item generally need not exceed 20 words. The agenda shall specify the time and location of the regular meeting and shall be posted in a location that is freely accessible to members of the public AND on the local agency’s Internet Web site, if the local agency has one.  (my emphasis added).

We (the Academic Senate) are the local educational association in question (and by the way, local educational entities made up entirely of employees, as we are, are specifically exempted from some other rules about online posting that have recently been proposed but not yet enacted).  The website you are reading now is my own website (it does not belong to the Academic Senate, it may be useful to the Academic Senate – just like an indoor bulletin board).  The Academic Senate does not have its own website but our local governance document (the Participatory Governance Manual) provides for our use of the College’s website, which is as it should be.  

So we don’t have to post on the internet – but we do it anyway.  In two places:  sharepoint and on the college’s webpage.  It is voluntary, which is useful, because our Academic Senate President is off raising money to cure Breast Cancer right now and we had to have a flurry of emails while she’s trying to focus on her run in order to post our revised agenda (which went out by email, and was – yes – posted on TWO kiosks near to the meeting place!)  Revised agendas, by the way, do not need to be posted 72 hours in advance (obviously) but 24 hours in advance – and we exceeded that.   Not because we have to.  But because we believe, and affirm, that following the Brown Act (even if we don’t have to) is part of a representative, democratic, anti-backroom politics kind of transparency.  Who would disagree with that, right?

Which brings me to another lesson (my own lesson, I am learning it).  Who is subject to the Brown Act in the first place?  Why aren’t all those District Committees subject to the Brown Act (or are they?)  They do post “notes” but not minutes.  Sometimes they ratify their notes (usually, not always).  Consultation Council is clearly a body designed to influence the actions of the Board, it should be Brown Act (MY opinion; but also the opinion of Michelle Pilati, if I understood her correctly today – and she referred me to someone she says is expert in this area).  Our own PGM specifically states that committees follow the Brown Act (and I hope to do a little revising to make that even more clear; I think that some of the subcommittees of the Academic Senate are specifically bound to follow the Brown Act – but some Academic Senates have language in their charters that exempt them from the Brown Act; so go figure).

But…does CUDS (for example) fall under the Brown Act?  Here are the triggers for the Brown Act:

Are you a Board of Trustees for a state educational institution?  (No, we are not; CUDS is not).

Are you a group specifically created by or authorized to provide direct feedback to the Board? (Yes, the Academic Senate is; CUDS is not).

Do you constitute a regularly meeting group that advises a group that is authorized to give direct feedback to the Board?  (Well, hmmm.  Last year CUDS didn’t report back to Senate, even once; it recommended actions by M & O, it recommended actions to the police; it’s in our shared governance handbook BUT it does say that it “advises” or “recommends” to the Senate).  But here’s the good part:  in our own Participatory Governance Handbook, we say that we, as a local group, expect PGM committees to behave as Brown Act entities.  This is by local decision.  Probably a very good idea.  By the way, CUDS is supposed to report back to the Senate.  Is reporting considered “advice”?  No.  Should we add the word “advice” to our PGM.  Yes.  That’s what CUDS does, so we should be clear about it – and then CUDS falls under the Brown Act.  

So, I think we should revise the PGM just a tiny bit (we’re revising anyway) to make sure that each of the PGM committees says specifically in its charge that it reports to and advises the Senate as needed.  Right?

Now – after all that, what if we really don’t have staff to post on the internet and the State has passed a bill exempting us, for budgetary reasons, from posting.  Well, we don’t have to post, we will not be prosecuted in the State of California.

But my new mantra is:

KIOSKS.  There’s one right by the library, there’s another one between the OE building and the Admin Building – let’s pick one and use it regularly.  And, while we’re at it, we will bring all of our agendas into compliance with the ADA, which currently they are not.  Maybe windows (although for some reason that bothers me aesthetically).  I’m hoping to get a nice label on the Kiosk near the Library and put a little notice to reserve one half of one of the three sides for Academic Senate and PGM postings.  Then, our workers will only have to post in one place (as required) and there won’t be so much running around and potential for missing Brown Act requirements.  Remember, only the physical posting is required; the electronic posting is voluntary – but we will continue to do it.  However, should the servers go down, and we’ve posted properly according to Federal rules we can proceed.  This isn’t just my opinion, there’s case law here too.

These are scary times.  Apparently the County of Mendocino and a few other places are no longer posting agendas anywhere (just how much can that cost?  It can be taped in a window!)  The “cost reimbursement” was originally supposed to be for ADA compliance (people who need a Braille agenda, for example).  It got up to about $98,000,000 in claims for state money for Braille agendas, large print agendas, spoken word agendas, etc.  So they had to suspend all public support of the Brown Act for that reason – but that does not mean that we can’t volunteer to safeguard our freedoms.

KIOSKS.   Am I going to stop putting things up on sharepoint?  Of course not.  But on a day when I revise an agenda and our AS Secretary is off duty, and I don’t yet have Omniupdate permissions, I know now that KIOSKS are my friend.  I will continue to pester all of you with agenda changes, supporting documents (don’t have to be mailed at any particular time or put on kiosks OR sharepoint – but we will but them on sharepoint, NOT kiosks).  And btw, the other co-chairs of PGM committees might want to think through their practices too.  I am eagerly looking forward to suggestions from other AS Presidents (past and present) as well as the State AS expert on procedure.

Further references.  ASCCC 1991 Overview

By the way, it is firmly my belief that when the Board okayed the District’s Participatory Governance Handbook it established committees that have regular, on-going advisory roles, and by so establishing, subjected them to the Brown Act – but the PGH disagrees.

What a kiosk may look like – ours are nicer

 
 

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Budget Ruminations & Sadness

I thought about titling this post Budget Nightmare.  If Prop. 30 doesn’t pass in California (and we need Prop. 38 to fail as well), schools in California are going to enter a phase never before seen in California education. I would like to think voters can see that.  I hope they do.  Polls say that Prop. 30 is passing – by a lean margin, of about 55%.  It should be winning by way more than that.  How can people not see that?

I can’t take credit for calling the work we’re doing in the Planning and Budget Council at Oxnard College “The Doomsday Scenario,” that was Vice President Mike Bush’s phrase.  He’s been pretty good about putting things in both complex terms – and then, the harder thing, in simple terms that I can understand.

We have to cut $1.6 million dollars from an already “flat” (actually slightly smaller) budget for Fiscal Year 2013 if Prop. 30 doesn’t pass.  If Prop 30 does pass we still have cuts to make.  I hope everyone realizes that.

We have to make these cuts in a way that still serves as many students as possible, both for the obvious reason of serving as many students as possible with our small budget and because if we serve fewer students, our future revenues go down.  We go into the Death Spiral (Alan Hayashi coined that one).  We were rescued last year from the Death Spiral by an adjustment to this year’s allocation, but I doubt we’ll be rescued again as each of the three colleges in our district come to grips with the realities that have plagued Oxnard College for so long.

We have virtually no clerical staff.  One person, Darlene Inda, is now doing the work formerly assigned to what I estimate (conservatively) to be 1.8 people.  Work that isn’t done by the now laid-off employees is simply done by whoever remains, it’s hard to estimate how much that has increased the workloads of everyone from the President on down.  Our Executive Vice President does not have an administrative assistant of her own.  Student workers fill roles formerly held by longer term employees.  Committees are taking on the work formerly done by such people as a public relations employee.   Most faculty know they have to be virtually self-sufficient, and if they don’t know that, they are learning it this year.

Reading the resource requests that faculty wrote last year, I have to shake my head.  Virtually everyone wants something.  Many programs asked for more clerical help, more faculty – but our budget is shrinking while salaries go up by step and column (as they should).  Instead of creatively planning on how to get by with less – even if Prop 30 passes, it’s not a panacea, and furthermore, it’s temporary; some faculty chose extravagantly (and perhaps woefully) dramatic language to describe their needs.  I’m not quoting any particular programs (I’m compiling the collective wail of faculty):  “If we don’t get more help, we aren’t going to be able to meet our learning outcomes” or “If we don’t get clerical help, the faculty are not going to be able to oversee labs properly.”  YIKES.  If that’s really true and your program is already expensive (it still has clerical support, for example), then you’re making an entire committee of people ask the question:  Can we afford you?

If we can’t afford your program, we can’t afford it.  We can’t risk student safety or faculty safety in a program that puts people at risk due to faculty inattention.  That would be in violation of Ed Code.

Did that sound harsh?  Well, let’s go on to the harsh part and why I’m so sad this weekend and obsessing about the College.

Athletics.

I am not a sports fan and I’m not athletic.  I’ve never been athletic, although I did love to go to football games in high school and college, those years are far behind me.

But I am very much aware of how important physical education is to human beings, how so many people are in fact constructed in such a way that kinetic learning is central to the whole way they approach the world.

We are very unlikely to cut Physical Education, in my view.  Remember, this blog represents my opinions, but I do feel people are better off knowing my opinions if they’re going to trust me to represent them and to ask the right questions of the administration.

But we are almost certainly going to cut Athletics.

Athletics (intramural sports, where our baseball team, our soccer teams, our cross country teams compete against other colleges) is not mandated by Title V/Ed Code.  These programs fall into what is called the “co-curricular” area, like…the cafeteria.  Last year, the Board eliminated cafeterias at all three colleges.  Oxnard College now has a café only because we have Culinary program at OC.  If that café fails to be self-sustaining, it will like be no more.

We have a childcare center on campus too.  It’s not mandated by law to exist.  It’s essentially a “co-curricular” program.  It has been given two years to break even (and it doesn’t take money from the general fund right now due to monies set aside at a different level of our funding model) or it goes away.

We have a healthcare center.  It may be at risk.

OCTV was “co-curricular.”  There was no legal mandate for it.  It was ended last year, another great sadness.

But, as we look at eliminating academic programs that are too expensive, academic programs that have a higher-than-average cost per student educated, Athletics is not only on the table to be cut, but there’s virtually no way that a program that is both 1) more expensive than average – by quite a bit; and 2) not required by law…has a good chance of surviving.

This is what I mean when I say we’re heading into budgetary times never before seen in California.  There are many factors.  We have lots of youngsters and not a lot of oldsters (who would ostensibly be paying taxes).  We have Prop 13 from decades ago protecting the oldsters.  We are increasing in minimum wage and part time jobs rather than in well-paying jobs.  The bottom fell out of the real estate market.  Enron screwed us over (and that’s a huge factor, don’t forget it).

If we could sell tickets to games and break even, Athletics would likely stay.  That is not the case at Oxnard College.  Students, for whatever reason, do not spend lots of money buying tickets – they do not arrive in huge numbers at games.  Could we change that?  Could Athletics live within a new budget created by ticket sales?  These are questions for the future.  Is Athletics going to survive while we cut classes needed for certificates, degrees and transfer, when the State of California says we have to have certificates and degrees – but not Athletics?

I cannot precisely say why this makes me so sad, to the point of having a nightmare about it last night.  I think perhaps it is the extreme effort that athletes put into their sports, the dedication, devotion and courage I’ve seen from athletes over the 26 years I’ve worked for this district.  In the classroom, athletes have made a difference.  Yes, some of them are sometimes squirrelly, but my own classroom research shows that these young men and women find a reason to be in school – because of athletics – and that they are intelligent, cooperative young people who end up doing very well in class.  They are often class leaders.  In anthropology, because we study sport, they bring a dimension to the classroom that cannot be gained by merely taking a physical education class.

In the end, college is not about athletics.  The “big schools” will be able to afford it, there will be places for really talented athletes to continue to show their talents.  The suddenness with which baseball disappeared from Moorpark last year, and basketball from Oxnard, though, are troubling.  What does this teach young people about the ability of their elders to plan?  Is it really necessary to treat this as an all or nothing kind of game?  I understand we’re not required to fund Athletics, and I understand that we’re cutting virtually every single thing we’re not required to do.  When we go to look at what other wonderful things we’re going to have to cut, though, I want everyone to remember that Athletics has had to look this disaster squarely in the eye for a year or more.  Our young athletes have been exposed to lessons about the world that other students did not have to face.  Our talented Athletics staff, headed up by Athletics Director Jonas Crawford, has had to carry on with a heavy weight tied to a thin thread hanging over their heads.

I have contacted the Oxnard College Foundation regarding funding for Athletics.  It seems to be so harsh to go from a still-living program to no program in such a short time.  I haven’t heard back yet.  I have no idea how to fund raise.  Students want to help, there is support for Athletics; there is simply no budget.  Since this is happening in a woefully similar way nationwide, we are looking at how other campuses have dealt with this.  Student-run intramural (as opposed to intermural) athletics are fun, but they are not quite the same (especially for sports like football, basketball and baseball, but for all sports).  Do students want to pay more fees to keep Athletics?  No student of whom I’ve asked that question has given an immediate response.  They need to think about it.  Will the community step up and help?  Where are the corporate sponsors?  What about the incredibly wealthy sports teams and athletes – can they be approached for help?

Will Oxnard itself get behind its youth – because the remaining athletes at OC are indeed local youth – and support Athletics at Oxnard once they understand how dire the situation is?  How is that kind of community support generated?   People who do a lot of community organizing are already in over their heads trying to work on Prop 30 and on keeping regular academic programs, on getting kindergarten and elementary class sizes down.

The brain is a complex organ, and the motor cortex is right in the middle of it for a reason.  The earliest known universities had Athletics and considered taking competition to higher levels an essential component of education.  It’s true that we can compete in other areas, but competition in Athletics has a purity to it, and a deep connection to the human spirit that cannot be denied.

Going to the gym for personal fitness is great, but Athletics brings something else to the table.  I will argue that we not cut co-curriculars altogether at OC, but I am not optimistic that even a small sum will be set aside for them.  They are all in the same boat and must become self-supporting.  It’s not exactly the best time in the world to try and raise more money, either.

It’s just very hard to even contemplate ending any of these programs when they are healthy and vibrant, just because of lack of money.  Where, oh where, are the rich philanthropists when you need them?  Can’t just one person out there buy a smaller yacht and donate the money to OC Athletics?  I can’t help it, that’s where my imagination goes.

 

Budget discussions and program discontinuance/reduction possibilities

On Tuesday, August 28, the Program Effectiveness and Planning Committee to review the results of its special Spring process, which was designed to aid PBC (Planning and Budget Council) in addressing budget issues for upcoming years.  In particular, both committees are discussing and concerned with fiscal year ’13 (we’re in fiscal year ’12).

The Mayans had problems living within their means, too. I can relate to the look on this guy’s face.

Despite some hastily constructed procedures that ended up drawing criticism from both committee members and non-members, PEPC was able to address many of the criticisms at its meeting and to put forth its sense of our degree- and certificate-granting programs.  Remember, PEPC doesn’t review every program that appears in our line by line budget, it only reviews a subset of them.  One program, Engineering Tech, was designated for possible program discontinuance.  That program agrees with the assessment, it has outlived its usefulness.  We are grateful when programs honestly reduce themselves for good reasons.  Truthfully, though, there’s very little at Oxnard College that isn’t outstanding, absolutely necessary or both.  Indeed, just for starters, I can think of a whole lot of programs we should have and don’t – and can’t have, right now, because there are no funds.  The PEPC data, in its entirety has been put up on Sharepoint.  The actual reports are in the folder marked 2011-12, and the table of members’ responses to those reports is in the folder marked 2012-13.  

What PEPC did is come up with a 25 point rubric for all programs (that’s the main thing to look at – there’s a separate, accreditation-driven 11 point rubric for CTE programs which is also included on the above spreadsheet).  Each member of the committee scored individually (something we aren’t going to do again, I don’t believe).  So you can see which programs scored the highest and the lowest by going to the 2012-13 PEPC folder on sharepoint and opening the PEPRaverages spreadsheet.  This is the same data that was sent to PBC.

On Wednesday, August 29, PBC met to begin deliberations regarding the potential budget impacts on our school if Prop 30 does not pass.  It has to pass!  But if it doesn’t, we’re in a world of pain at Oxnard College – and everywhere else in the state.

Vice President Mike Bush shared program by program cost data for instructional programs, and will be sending the complete Excel workbook (with an amazing amount of detail) to all committee members – and to anyone else who requests it.  We are requested, by Dr. Durán, to come up with a plan for $1,600,000 in budget cuts from OC by Sept. 30, 2012, in keeping with the Board’s intention to have the cuts finalized (if needed) by January.  If Prop 30 passes, the plan that PBC is about to make will simply be put aside (although clearly, it could be used to inform any other needed cuts, so the work is extremely important).

PBC agreed that a central factor in cuts has to be cost per student (per FTES) per program and VP Mike has agreed to provide that data to the committee in the next couple of days.

PBC in no way agreed to or intends to cut or reduce programs simply because of costs per student, but there was general agreement that that’s a place to start.  Many other factors will be considered and ultimately reflected in the minutes and reported back to Senate (and blogged about here, where I can go on at length – as you can see).

What are PBC’s various options?  It can recommend elimination of a program for purely budgetary considerations and may have to.  This would be without reference to PEPC data at all and could include some strong programs, simply because they are expensive.  That’s where the budget is at.

PBC can also recommend reductions in programs, as opposed to eliminations.

PBC can also recommend which programs should be restored if funds are found.

In other words, PBC is engaging in shaping the future of OC in ways that we saw coming last year, and may or may not come to pass this year (all depends on the will of the people of California).

Last year, both PBC and PEPC struggled to create processes designed to downsize a college, and it was not easy.  Over the summer, I think all the individuals involved gave the processes a lot of thought.  We have a lot of returning committee members, and some new ones.  Together, people really attended to the task of improving the processes.  VP Mike provided excellent data without making people’s heads spin, and more data was requested and will be provided, including data on total cost of ownership, separate revenue streams, and current cost data (and budget targets for each program for 2012-13).

Not all the cuts will come from instruction.  The other areas are:  co-curricular programs, administrative costs and the student services area.  While in theory, “everything is on the table,” there are programs that are mandated by law (they’re not on the table).  I will also admit to having a personal bias, if you will, regarding further cuts to classified people.  We can’t cut any more classified.  I think a lot of people agree with me (so far, no one I’ve talked to has disagreed with me, and I’ve talked to a lot of people).

Whether or not Prop 30 passes, we still have to balance our budget in the usual ways, and it is a smaller budget for next year, by about $880,000.  We have to meet increased costs within that smaller budget, so there will be some cuts/readjustments in any case.  District-wide, Administrative Services is looking at such issues as:  no local registrar for any campus, only asst. registrars with one registrar for the whole district; closing bookstores; reorganization of the work week; reorganization of management.  Locally, on campus, we are looking at every cost (and I should say that VP Mike Bush has a very keen eye for these things), including paint.   Unfortunately, some funds are designated for physical upkeep and can’t be used in any other way – come to some of these budget meetings for the fun of figuring out those kinds of things.

Lastly, I want to acknowledge and thank Vice Chancellor Sue Johnson.  We were extremely lucky to have her as co-chair of PBC last Spring, and she graciously showed up at our most recent meeting to transition us to the new year.  She is a veritable fount of budget (and political) knowledge, her job is to watch the State of California like a hawk and attempt to understand its vicissitudes, which frankly are chaotic these days and sometimes border on incomprehensible (I want to use the vernacular and just say the budget issues are crazy).   She also spent a lot of time with me, schooling me on the specific areas of the budget that impact OC the most (like how the allocation model works, the importance of FTES, the complete failure of making cuts completely proportional at this point in time and so much more).   She has responded to every concern or question I’ve had – and if our Senate has more concerns or questions, she will continue to respond.

The mental image that comes to me when I think about Sue Johnson trying to work with state and local economics and politics (and everything else she has to do). William Saturno is the photographer; National Geographic dot com, which holds the copyright to this image.

 
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Posted by on August 31, 2012 in PGM Committees

 

Participatory Governance Committee Membership & Issues for 2012-13

Two very important committees

PBC

In the fall, the Senate has to seat 9 representatives on Program and Budget Council (PBC), our school’s most important participatory governance committee (a 10th Faculty person is selected by the AFT).  Terms are for two years (but people can be reaffirmed for another two years by Senate).  These 9 representatives represent the entire campus.

This committee meets the third Wednesday of every month, and unlike other committees, uses for proxies/alternates the term “the designated alternate” which I presume means the same person each time, for reasons that seem obvious to the charge of the committee.

Faculty duties of this committee include:  written reports from the constituents represented (which is the Academic Senate) and to report back to the Academic Senate. 

There seems to be little doubt that Program and Budget Council will be dealing with program discontinuance, program reductions or possible suspensions, as some members of PBC have suggested).  They will have received some Program Effectiveness ratings from the Program Effectiveness and Planning Committee (PEPC), which also has to select members.

The way it works for Program Discontinuance (PD) is that each campus is to designate a committee to advise the President about PD.  On our campus, that task is given by our PGM to PBC, which can collect data and advice from any other committee.  PEPC is required to report to PBC about program effectiveness.  Here is the Board’s Program Discontinuance Procedure. 

According to the procedure, PBC studies the budget situation.  Note that part of the possible rubric for disc

Cost of program delivery relative to performance in relation to the program metrics adopted by the college.

Other criteria as determined by the college.

PEPC did not look at cost data; that is going to fall to PBC this year.  If we want to change this process (I recommend not changing it), we can, through formal Senate action and changes to the PGM (Participatory Governance Manual).

Once PBC makes its recommendations (which need to be firmed up by the last September meeting), those recommendations go to the Executive Vice President, who agrees or disagrees, but in any case presents a response to the full Academic Senate.  The Academic Senate then deliberates, having heard both the PBC recommendations and the views of the EVP and either agrees or demurs, and provides its own response.  The result of this process then goes to the President, who takes it under consideration and makes his own recommendations to the Board.  The Board must affirm all program discontinuances (but not reductions) and a plan has to be developed so that students in those programs are not impacted.

PEPC

From the charge of PEPC:

Members come from divisions and departments and are comprised of the Department Chair, Coordinator, Supervisor, or designee. In addition, all members are to have a designated alternate attend in the event of their absence. Members are to be appointed/selected annually.  (Note:  most of us have been laboring under the impression that department chairs had to do this; but they can actually designate another department member if they wish)

Co-Chairs

Executive Vice President of Student Learning Academic Senate President or Senate designee

Division/Department/Constituency Representatives: Five management representatives which includes the Dean of Student Services and the Vice President of Business Services  (Note:  there is no provision for designees in this paragraph; when the committee was set up, the need for financial information was well understood as part of the planning process, hence the need for the VP of Business Services; the need for the perspective on Instructional Effectiveness as seen from Student Services was also regarded as crucial).

Division/Department/Constituency Representatives:  Two Academic senate representatives (appointed by the Academic Senate) Two classified staff representatives including one from the Business Services division Two student representatives (appointed by Associated Student Government).  I hope to affirm two faculty members as Senate representatives to PEPC at our first Senate meeting.

Instructional: Those instructional departments with a designated Department Chair, Coordinator or Facilitator, including at least one Student Services representative.

PEPC distributes data to programs (last year I believe we had 27 designated programs) and expects them to write something called a PEPR (Program Effectiveness and Planning Report).  These reports change a bit every year, in response to changes in state law, Title V, participatory governance, board objectives, and  – the budget.

In 2011-2012, two PEPR’s were required, because of the issues surrounding the sudden imposition of “Program Discontinuance” on three colleges in our district by the Chancellor.  Resource request forms were not required with the second report, but will be accepted (as usual) in the fall.  It is likely that this two part PEPR process will continue into the future, with addenda being required to the original report as needed to keep all our programs in the best possible shape.

This committee meets on the fourth Tuesday of every month.

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Other committees, alphabetically

CUDS (Campus Use, Development and Safety Committee)

This committee became moribund during 2010-11, due in part to the loss of our Vice President of Business Services, and there was apparently no faculty Co-Chair.  The Co-Chair can been any full time faculty member and the search is on to find one.   The Academic Senate also gets to appoint one additional faculty member.  This is a crucial committee on our campus, so we need to get it organized over the summer.  In addition, there are 9 additional faculty (from the departments listed in the PGM) who should be attending.  

CUDS meets second Tuesday of every month.  We’re currently looking for a regular meeting space for it – hopefully in the Admin Building.  The co-chairs are the VP of Business Services (so no one, right now) and a faculty chair appointed, apparently, by the AS President (with Senate approval of course).  I’m working on that one.

Curriculum

Curriculum Committee meets on the second and fourth Wednesdays of each month.  While the implementation of Curricunet may, at first, mean some frustration in transition, I’m hearing from some campuses that are using it that in the long run, it really makes the whole process much, much easier.  It may necessitate some minor redesigns of curriculum process, but in the end, if it is anything like eLumens was for LOT, it may make that committee’s business much easier.

Every department has a curriculum rep, so be sure to know who yours is!

That committee is chaired by the Academic Senate President or designee and that designee is Teresa Bonham for Fall.  The committee itself was charged by Pres. Robert Cabral with finding a faculty replacement for Teresa, while she’s on sabbatical, for Spring, but word on the street is that it is Shannon Davis, our Articulation Officer.  Review the PGM for rules on who gets to sit on Curriculum Committee.  Its traditional meeting spot has been CSSC-101, and the first meeting for fall should be on August 22.

Learning Outcomes Team

LOT deals with SLO’s and assessment of Student Learning Outcomes on campus.  It is a faculty-driven process and it is our one most important way of ascertaining that we are meeting state-wide – and our own goals – about what students should be learning.  It is about identifying strengths and weaknesses (and improvement) in how students are learning.

Every course in the catalogue must have course level Student Learning Outcomes, which are listed on the syllabus.  Every course must have an Assessment Calendar, usually linked to a Department or Discipline calendar, whereby leaning assessment data is submitted for every Course Level SLO for that course.  This must happen at least once every two academic years.  It’s probably easiest to do all the CSLO’s for all sections in the same semester, but there are no hard and fast rules.  Some programs are assessing all sections more frequently than every two academic years, which provides way more data for analysis.  It is up to the Department to decide these things.  Everyone can always input more data than the minimum!

Every Program has Program Level SLO’s as well.  Each course’s SLO’s are supposed to be mapped to the PSLO’s (eLumens provides a quick and easy “matrix” for doing this – takes only a few minutes).

Then, at a time designated by the department (after the data from the assessments has been input), a Course Level Improvement Plan should be created for each course.  Some departments, allowing the disciplines to do this on their own calendars, have allowed great independence to the disciplines for completing this part of the process on their own time frame – but again, it must be within the four semesters.

Next, a designated person within the Department, Program or Discipline (varies by Department) writes a Program Improvement Plan.  The idea for that plan is to use as much data as is available (which may mean going back for a few semesters and opening the .pdf’s that eLumens provides).  On the other hand, some  programs have decided to do all their data collection in one semester, and therefore, would be looking at only one semester’s data (again, it varies).  Program Improvement Plans, more than anything else, are supposed to help instructors find ways to 1) address any instructional area weaknesses, 2) adequately reconsider the scope of the course (even considering creation of new curriculum if needed, or such things as advisories or prerequisites) or 3) modifying the SLO calendar and process (within institutional guidelines) to give better data.

SLO data are not the only way of improving a program, but eLumens and LOT are our institutional mechanisms for ensuring we meet Accreditation Standards in this area.  You can do your program improvement plans at any time during the 2 year cycles (or more than once, actually), but if you have waited until the end of your 2 your cycle (the last one is ended on May 17, 2012, with the end of the contract year and LOT has requested the PIP’s by May 4, to be uploaded to sharepoint as part of the PEPR process as well), that’s something that needs to be done now.

LOT will be considering, next year, how often it seems reasonable to do PIPs, but the process otherwise remains the same.

Because LOT is transitioning from being a PGM committee to being a standing committee that offers and receives advice from both Curriculum and Student Success Committees, its membership may be changing and its meeting date may be changing as well.  Stay tuned.

 
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Posted by on May 10, 2012 in PGM Committees