City College of San Francisco, faced with increasing stress and in dire accreditation and budget miseries, took further steps in efforts to save the accreditation it needs to survive. The college has until March 15 to prove it should endure.
The ongoing CCSF saga took another extreme turn over the weekend during the early morning hours at a meeting with college trustees. Over objections from numerous CCSF department chairs, college trustees voted unanimously to demolish a long-standing system of faculty leadership, sending dozens of academic department chairs back to their classrooms as they surrender their administrative duties. The accrediting commission has voiced concern over CCSF’s complex and costly governance structure system, as well as concern that the school is not moving fast enough in cutting costs.
More than 60 faculty members serve as department chairs, earning extra pay in the process. They are released from their teaching duties to do administrative duties as chairs. Additionally, chairs have their own labor union, must have their classes covered by other faculty, and work 10 months of the year rather than 12 as deans do. CCSF currently employs 11 deans. The CCSF is to replace the chairs with 12 deans and three associate vice chancellors.
At the meeting, interim Chancellor Pamila Fisher grew impatient at 1:30 a.m, as she feared CCSF Board of Trustees might waiver on their vote to send the chairs back to class. In the end, the Board voted unanimously for the change in order to save $2 million for the nearly bankrupt school of close to 90,000 students.
In another vote, the trustees were also unanimous in deciding to close the Bernal Heights State Preschool, a move that will save $84,000 a year. Additionally, summer hours will end at three other college-run childcare centers. CCSF spends $700,000 yearly on the child centers that serve as research centers for CCSF child-development majors. The sites also serve a purpose for parents, by showing alternatives to physical discipline.
Closing or reducing hours at the childcare centers is sad for everyone, but as Trustee Steve Ngo said, “No one wants to cut (child care), but we can’t operate like that anymore.”
Another area of lost funds has been the loose practice of allowing students to take classes without paying enrollment fees. This error has cost CCSF $8.5 million over many years. Last month school officials disclosed the school loses $400,000 yearly by not collecting the fees, an amount that can rise to $1 million if allowed to continue. Interim Chancellor Fisher told the group if CCSF does not try to collect the back fees, the state could hold back 10 percent of its apportionment as penalty.
In the face of such a crisis, the trustees unanimously agreed to begin collecting fees at registration, and send warnings to all students who owe fees to pay up or have their case given over to a collection agency to track down the debt.
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