City College's new divide

Students and teachers rallied to support Prop. A, but they aren't benefitting much from its passage.
Ara Bloomberg

Despite recent voter approval of Proposition A, the parcel tax expected to bring $14 million annually to City College of San Francisco, faculty there are enduring pay cuts and layoffs, a reality that has rankled union leaders and others who have rallied to save the school. 

In the face of the school’s accreditation crisis, which if not addressed by March could lead to its closure, the college was a united front to keep the school open and pass Prop. A, which was approved by over 70 percent of San Francisco voters on the same night as President Obama’s reelection.

But a combination of timing (the money won’t roll in until later in 2013), the depth of the district’s fiscal hole, and declining student enrollment have left CCSF with essentially status quo funding. District officials appear to be leaning toward using most of the surplus it does get to beef up its scant reserve funds, which was one of the things that triggered the accreditation crisis.  

After the good news of Prop. A’s passage, CCSF discovered it wasn’t on track to meet its required enrollment numbers -- and the number of students enrolled dictates state funding.

“[The administration] was focused on these accreditation reports. It’s a big job. It was very disruptive to change chancellors kind of midstream,” said John Rizzo, the college’s board president. “We had to switch administrations, and that’s been very difficult.”

City College has been through three different chancellors in the past year: longtime Chancellor Don Q. Griffin left in April due to illness, Pamila Fisher was interim chancellor until October, and now Thelma Scott-Skillman is the current chancellor.

Whatever the reason, City College has 3,000 fewer students enrolled than it expected to have for the Spring, potentially putting it $6.5 million in the hole this coming year. It has until the end of summer to boost those numbers. Now, despite all the cards coming up aces for them in the polls, the college still needs to save millions of dollars somewhere else in the budget.

It has started by slashing faculty and administration wages 8.8 percent, and not renewing contracts for more than 30 part time teachers, 18 part time counselors, and 30 clerical staff. Notably, Scott-Skillman -- whose office negotiated the plan, which the board discussed on Dec. 13 -- will also take a paycut.

Alisa Messer, president of the faculty union at City College, thinks cutting teachers, and therefore classes, flies in the face of what the voters bargained for with Prop. A. “There’s no discussion here about accountability to San Francisco voters,” Messer told us. And with the loss of competitive wages, the faculty has already started to come apart at the seams.

“We have unfortunately heard from quite a few faculty that they will be looking for jobs out of state,” Messer said. “Many said they’ll have to change their living situation or move out of San Francisco.”

She said that would hurt CCSF: “These things have to do with the long term viability of the college.”

Steve Ngo, a trustee on the college’s board, thinks that the Prop. A money should be used to shore up the school’s reserve fund, as dictated by the accreditation team that threatens the school with closure. Unfortunately, this means losing teachers now rather than later.

“If you want to frame it in terms of labor, there’s nothing worse to do than spending money now [to retain teachers] and laying off teachers in the future,” Ngo said. “Those are younger teachers. The people there now will be retired.”

Due to increased focus on diversity in hiring, CCSF’s more diverse and younger teachers tend to be the newer ones, and part time faculty, Ngo said. Those are the teachers most at risk -- and the ones that students will end up losing.

Amidst the arguments about proper use of funding, teachers at the school are seeing their wages cut. Some, like Danny Halford, are losing their jobs.

Halford taught English as a Second Language at City College for seven years. A friendly and outgoing middle-aged guy, Halford is a veritable man about town, and can be seen at City College fundraisers, and was among the college’s most ardent Prop. A supporters, waving picket signs and attending rallies.

He was also one of the part time faculty members to lose his job in the Spring.

“Greg Keech, our super-wonderful ESL Dept. chair, wrote me a very nice letter to inform me that due to budget cuts there will be no job for me next semester,” Halford said. He had also recently lost his job as an organist at the College Avenue Presbyterian Church, which he’d had for 10 years, when a new pastor had “a new music concept that I don't fit,” he said.

One of his favorite memories from City College was of a student named Elmer, from Guatemala. “He came into my Literacy class in May 2006, near the end of my first semester, with almost no English.  He made progress quickly.”

“When he got his G.E.D. diploma, I was so proud of him, I could have bust,” Halford said. “I've watched him grow, off and on, for six years now. He has no family here, and I think of him as my nephew.”

He may even be re-hired next fall, but until then he waits in limbo. He’ll try to substitute teach at the college for now, he said, but ruled out looking at other schools for work. As he said, “There are no jobs at other colleges because all colleges are in the same boat.”

Ngo said that the choice is basically between drastic change, or the closure of the school.

“It’s mathematically impossible to keep that payrate now,” Ngo said. “My hope is to provide the best wages and benefits in the long run, but we can’t offer it if it’s a facade. We can’t maintain payrates as they are now because we have too many faculty...There’s no agreement if there’s no college.”

City College’s faculty’s union, American Federation of Teachers 2121, filed an unfair labor practice charge Dec. 21 with the Public Employee Relations Board, a state entity that has the power to enforce labor law in California. The charge alleges that the college’s paycuts are unlawful.

A recent email to their union members outlines the AFT 2121’s grievances with the college: “At Monday’s bargaining session, the District finally outlined its claim that it will cut wages to recover last year’s ongoing state cuts of $13 million—even though the parties bargained in good faith, reaching agreement on June 20, 2012 to address these losses, including the 2.85% wage reduction this year and millions of dollars in savings through attrition and program cuts. The District is essentially overriding the previous agreement by now moving to cut wages to recover $13 million on top of the already agreed to concessions.”

College spokesperson Larry Kamer said he hadn’t seen the charges yet, as the college is on vacation, but that “we respectfully disagree with AFT 2121's characterization of the situation.”

“City College is facing an immediate budget shortfall due to a second straight year of missed enrollment targets,” he said. “In the past, City College might have papered over such a budget gap with money it didn't have, but those days are over. The college remains in a perilous situation with regard to accreditation and has no choice but to respond to the crisis with swift action and a request for shared sacrifice.”

And there’s the rub. In the midst of reforming the school to meet the requirements of the accreditation team by March or face closure, the college failed to keep its eye on their enrollment.

“The unions were trying to help, calling prospective students and trying a pitch,” Rizzo said. “‘Hey enroll!’ That kind of thing. They’re helping. A lot of people are trying to chip in to help this.”

“Ultimately it’s the people in the administration who are responsible for the enrollment,” he said.

With City College’s newest Chancellor Scott-Skillman on track to stay for at least a year, some stability may return to college’s administration. But City College’s dilemma, to potentially strain its budget to the breaking point or to lose valued and experienced teachers, has no easy answers  -- and either way the losers may end up being the students.

To register for classes at City College, visit Enrollment for Spring is open.


CCSF by the numbers:

Prop A - $14 million a year for 8 years starting in 2013
3,000 - the number of students city college needs to enroll in order to meet its budget expectations, or lose money
$6.5 million - the amount CCSF loses if it doesn't enroll 3,000 students
8.8 percent, the amount faculty wages are being cut
160 - faculty lost in the past year due to attrition - retirement, quitting
30 - part time faculty not rehired next semester, including ESL teacher Danny Halford
30 - clerical staff not rehired for next semester
18 - part time counselors not rehired next semester
3 - number of chancellors running City College over the past year




Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 5:19 pm

Ad hominem troll.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 5:26 pm

Seriously, the vomit of the junkies, shits of the winos and conversations of the schizophrenic seers don't waft onto my property and deprive me of enjoying it like the proselytizing Christians do or like the libertarians do in this forum.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:07 am

somewhere might hold a different political ideology than yourself than you are about the real and genuine suffering on your doorstep which you seermingly can ignore at will.

Posted by guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:34 am

Ad hominem troll. The issue is your incessant proselytizing of your ideology irrespective of the sentiments of others. Like the urban nudists did not know when enough was enough, you all simply disregard the sentiments of anyone around you and get off on your ability to force your extremist views on others.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:03 am
Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:21 am

It is not proselytizing when written to folks who more or less agree with me on political ends. That is discourse that is inhibited by the harassment from the right wing that hijacks that venue for discourse with its tired discredited libertarian right wing ideology. There are plenty of places to discuss your religious dogma per scripture where you are not harassing others. Kindly direct your attentions there.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:36 am

mutual masturbation forum?

And not vigorous and balanced and diverse debate?

Got it.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:58 am

Where do I go to get away from the conservative libertarian right wing wack jobs who insist on proselytizing their economic sharia everywhere all the time like the wack job christians? Is all the world their 16th and Mission?

And, no, our interior courtyard is an oasis of green calm and peace amidst the chaos of the North Mission, that semi shared space is one thing that makes San Francisco. The only thing that we hear other than the bleating Christians are the happy sounds of kids playing during recess at Marshall School and the screech of the BART trains into 16th and Mission station when the winds blow right.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 8:54 am

But, no, sorry, since I'm sure SF's "tolerance" and "diversity" are all part of what you like about this town, you naturally welcome all hues of political debate, right?

And you would never seek to suppress criticism nor censor criticism. After all, rigidity and intolerance really wouldn't be San Francisco values, would it?

Posted by guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:01 am

No censorship about it, we've heard you, there is nothing about your position that is unknown to us, and we've rejected your position. There is nothing to be gained by continuously bombarding us with your narrow and impractical ideology other than to disrupt. Your right to free speech ends where our right to not be repeatedly harassed begins.

You are worse than the communists.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:16 am

But I tire quickly of reading the re-runs of platitudes and falsehoods from Anonymous/guest/Guest/anonymous. Unfortunately, these comment pages devolve from meaningful discussion to SFGate like hatred that yearns to be ignored.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:21 am

What "right" to free speech does a private individual have on someone else's private website?

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:32 am

as much right to post here as you do.

Posted by guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:39 am

The grant of an easement to use private property is not a right, it is a grant. You are abusing that grant.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:00 am

Your desire to censor any contrary expression, while predictable and evil, is easily refuted.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:21 am

One could argue that any website which is part of the "fourth estate" ought to provide an open forum as part of its journalistic ethics program, just like they need to have news ombudsmen. But its a matter of spirit, and not letter of law.

(Even so, the SFBG is a more purely open politics forum than most. Compare to the obvious slant of the SFGate forum; defacto whether you attribute that to direct influence of the editorial staff or simply through a comment reporting system of their engineering. How long would some "liberal troll" last on a right wing forum? Do we need to try a field trip to prove it?)

That private forums in general aren't a reliable venue for public debate and can be interfered with by so many possible agencies is a topic for serious consideration, as I'm sure Anonymous will agree.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 2:33 pm

suppose I can understand you appreicate the fact that SFBG is much more open to a diverse constituency here with opposing views. I feel sure you would hate to see any censorship here even though, of course, SFBG are entitled to censor free speech here since they are paying for the bandwidth (or tather, their paid hooker ad's are).

Or are you arguing here for SFBG to suppress opinions that aren't mindless echoes of the usual left-wing dogma? Do you want a debating chamber here a circle jerk?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

you trip and fall, cut yourself badly and bleed to death while everybody laughs.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 5:32 pm

from various other websites?

Methinks, perhaps so.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 6:56 pm
Posted by guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:33 am





Posted by Eddie on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:09 am

you'd know that QED stands for Quad Erat Demonstrandum - "which was to be proven". Commonly used in mathematical theorem proofs.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:19 am

You need more than argument by the waving of the hands and appeal to scripture to conclude QED unless your intent is to harass.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:26 am

revealing that you would regard the free expression of diverse opinions as a form of harassment.

Only an intolerant and dogmatic soul would feel offended by a contrary argument.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:35 am

We've heard your ideology over and again, it is the dominant ideology and is pervasive. We are not excluding anything by creating a forum where other conversations are not drowned out by the dominant ideology. We hear ya.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 5:52 pm

should matter.

Are we proving mathematical theorems on these comment pages?

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 10:35 am

intelligent and authoritative -- which, as with any of the rest of this jack-ass' incessant crap, is just about as from reality as possible; likewise the accusations of instigating ad hominem attacks or being against debate and advocating censorship.

Why do right-wing trolls stupidly bray like rabid jackasses? It is their nature. The mentally feeble seek to equalize themselves by putting on false aires of intellectualism and denigrating their betters.

Posted by lillipublicans on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 11:38 am

whether it's cheap throwaway insults like "troll" when you realize you are losing a debate but also, and perhaps more significantly, labels like "left-wing" and "right-wing". In my case, my beliefs do not correspond with any political party, and so I cannot be conviently classifed.

But of course, like the racists and slaveowners of old, bigots have to first classify people before they can discriminate against them. Classification systems entail bigotry and are necessary for it, so you should worry that you are so quick to categorize others and make over-generalizations.

Posted by Anonymous on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 11:51 am

You discriminate against progressive ideas all the time, hateful troll.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 1:52 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 2:08 pm

With minor modifications to the FICA tax, its future will be insured.

The parasite class that guest/anonymous are part of or aspire to want access to the SS funds so they can steal profits from it.

Posted by Eddie on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 3:38 pm

will avoid the SSI fund becoming bankrupt?

Now, I might agree thfat it's shortfall is much less than the truly unaffordable, unfunded liability that is MediCare and MediCaid. So arguably Social Security is the "least hosed" part of our entitlement culture. But it is still deeply in debt, due to it's inherent Ponzi nature.

But no, I do not want to steal your SSI contributions. but for your own sake, I think you should want to own it and invest it yourself, as I suspect the government will eventually renege on it's obligations.

Posted by guest on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 4:31 pm

Medicaid and Medicare are assets, not liabilities, investments not expenses.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 5:27 pm

So, if they are assets, how much could you sell them for?

This should be good.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 6:55 pm

If Medicare and Social Security were not valuable, there would not be relentless efforts to privatize them.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 8:10 pm

entitlement programs. SS, Medicare and MediCaid between them don't have a dollar of assets between them. They are quite simply unfunded future liabilities. Who would want to take those on?

Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 8:56 pm

We know why you right wingers want your grubby paws on our social insurance, the issue is whether they are valuable or not, assets or liabilities. The social insurance programs are assets and that is why Wall Street has their eyes on them, to capture that value. They could give a rats ass about health care and seniors.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 9:09 pm
Posted by Guest on Jan. 01, 2013 @ 8:18 am

Thats a lot of percentage points! And for department chairs losing their stipends on top of that 8.8%? That is a BIG paycut! Ouchee!
Pray, shall I shed a tear for my dear city college faculty friends?
I shall not.

Posted by Guest on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 7:24 pm

Why the heck can't we double tuition fees? They are ridiculously low right now.

Posted by guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 8:37 am

It's hard to say who you're talking to when everyone identifies themselves as Guest/Anonymous/anonymous/guest, but it seems like the same people who are arguing for sky high administrators salaries are arguing for cuts to students and staff.
According to you people,
-Administrators deserve hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars a year, and should come from the private sector, because how else can you hire good professionals?
-Faculty and staff: cuts cuts and more cuts. I guess hiring and retaining good professionals doesn't matter when it actually comes to unimportant stuff like... you know, actually teaching students.
-College facilities: sell it off to private capital and real estate developers
-Students: Fuck the students. Let them pay through the nose.

I see. It's the same ideology demanding socialism for the rich and austerity for everyone else. It's transparent, and it's vile.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 12:32 pm

I love CCSF and got my start with math and science there...

I think they need to offer more math, programming, engineering and the like...
I wanted to enroll in a discrete math class or engineering class just to round myself out and practice while in career transition....couldn't because they are FULL...

Too much focus on liberal arts, there's no job that requires that much liberal arts education in a technological market like the one in the SF Bay Area....sorry to say...

Also, what about the big new gym ....that was a multi million dollar project...

Again, too much hope that sports will save them, that just ESL will save them...
Just start offering more CAD, programming, GIS, web dev and pple will enroll...

My 2 cents...worth every penny

Posted by guest on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 7:32 pm

If yer not smart enough to teach yourself discrete mathematics without having to pay someone else, then you're probably not sharp enough for me to take your political analytics seriously.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 8:35 pm

I thought that's what Phil Day practiced, with some extra help from the Natalie Berg block of the College Board.

Posted by Greg on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 9:05 pm

Discreet math would be what Day and Berg thought that they were practicing.

Discrete math represents the theoretical underpinnings of data structures, algorithmics and computability, no rocket science involved.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 30, 2012 @ 9:28 pm

spend more than you collect, you'll end up just as broke as CCSF.

Posted by guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 8:37 am


Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 1:51 pm
Posted by Guest on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 2:06 pm

Ad hominem troll.

Posted by marcos on Dec. 31, 2012 @ 2:19 pm

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