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GCC budget woes strain relationships

Ongoing cutbacks are contributing to a tense climate between faculty, administrators.

June 26, 2012|By Megan O'Neil, megan.oneil@latimes.com
  • The Glendale Community College Garfield campus. Budget cuts are creating a tense environment at the college.
The Glendale Community College Garfield campus. Budget… (Roger Wilson / Staff…)

A grim financial forecast at Glendale Community College is cracking relations between some constituent groups on campus.

Based on the California state budget passed last week, the college is facing a midyear cut of $4.6 million if Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax initiative fails in November. That cut would be $500,000 more than previously anticipated, Ron Nakasone, vice president of administrative services, said Monday.

In total, the college could be forced to shrink spending by more than $8 million in 2012-13 after already downshifting to $76 million in total expenditures in 2011-12.

“Cash is going to be a bigger issue this year,” Nakasone said. “[State officials] have deferred much of the revenue that we would receive from July through November to December and January. We will have a much lower amount of cash in the earlier months.”

College officials announced earlier this month that they will likely seek major concessions from employee groups. If the worst-case scenario should unfold, they plan to cancel 700 classes in spring 2013, eliminate summer 2012 altogether and issue layoff notices.

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The balance sheet realities are heightening tensions between faculty members, administrators and trustees. The relationship has been on soft ground since spring 2011 when the sides spent weeks in closely watched negotiations over the details of the 2011 summer session.

Ultimately, the faculty union agreed to teach 200 summer classes at 60% of their pay. That, combined with the elimination of the 2012 winter session and further reduction of summer session has meant thousands of dollars in lost income for faculty members, according to Faculty Guild President Isabelle Saber.

This week, cracks again began to show, this time over what some described as trustees’ disregard for Glendale Community College’s shared-governance model.

During the board meeting Monday, trustee Tony Tartaglia briefly referred to the fissure.

“I understand during this budget crisis that many on campus are having a lot of issues,” he said. “And I am concerned as a trustee about morale and respect.”

He referred to “a lot of individuals” disrespecting administrators, adding that “I have some concern about that.”

On Tuesday, Tartaglia declined to elaborate on what triggered his remarks. But Saber said they stemmed from concerns raised by faculty members last week over a proposed promotion and raise for a mid-level administrator that would have circumvented the traditional vetting process.

The employee reclassification has since been put on hold.

“Unfortunately, our reputation is now tarnished, as many decisions have recently been made behind closed doors, circumventing the very processes and committees that made us previously shine among other districts,” Saber wrote in a campus-wide email Tuesday.

She added that faculty members were now at a point where questioning decisions on promotions and new positions “is considered insubordination and harassment.”

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