By Veronica Hurtado
East Los Angeles College faculty expressed their thoughts on the negative impact on last year’s budget at the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees meeting held last week.
The faculty showed passion for service and dedication in efforts to help the district find a better solution to next year’s budget.
Armida Ornelas, PhD, Advisor for the Club Students for Equal Rights, reminded the Board and audience that the current fiscal year deficit grew to $74-85 million.
Ornelas emphasized to the board that the current practice of fiscal responsibility to only allow the school to use 2 million of its surplus has negatively impacted students and services the school could provide to ensure the students succeed and the way in which students learn.
She expressed her frustration on districts part to keep cutting the budget and the money’s unknown allocation, which as a result impacts the resources available for students to succeed academically.
She said to the Board that they should consider giving ELAC more flexibility in accessing the excess balance. She also requested more more transparency on the District to demonstrate how the budget is allocated.
Alex Immerblum, Academic Senate President, presented on the negative impacts the budget cuts have affected ELAC from the faculty perspective.
Immerblum recounted to the Board that faculty at ELAC have tried to preserve class offerings, but it was forced to reduce class offering as a solution to resolve the District’s budget.
As a result, they have seen classes overcrowded, which, in the view of faculty, is a disservice to students who come to school seeking a degree because it will take them longer to graduate.
Finding the situation to be unfair, he questioned the Board on a more important issue of why would ELAC have to make budget cuts and suffer the same consequences as other schools in the district, when this school was fiscally responsible and the others where not?
He pressed more importantly that a cookie cut solution was not fair.
In lieu, he urged the Board as it prepares to set a new budget for next year to support policies that provide budgets favorably to the campuses that are fiscally responsible instead of punishing them.
Jeffrey Hernandez, Academic Senate Vice President and Political Science instructor, also presented on the same topic and told the Board that given the budget cuts the communities college’s serve have shifted from serving local students to serving students from other LACCD campuses.
As a solution Hernandez recommended to the Board to consider the process of decentralize the district over arching power on college’s budget as a solution for colleges to be responsible and accountable for their own budgets.
The Board of Trustees welcomed the presentations; but they did not surprise the board.
LACCD Chancellor Daniel LaVista, Ph.D. sympathized with the faculty’s concern over budget issues and said “the Board of Trustee’s Meetings are appropriate place to voice concerns and share knowledge related to specific campuses, but it is not the appropriate place to discuss detail solutions about the budget.”
He went on to further say “the board has an obligation to be transparent share what they know to illustrate (faculty, staff and students) can depend on government on getting information to make appropriate decisions.”