I hope your term is going well thus far.
I’m writing with updates regarding: contracted faculty positions, vaccines, programs under consideration for possible reduction, community college funding and college budget, college spending priorities, legislative update, a virtual “fireside chat” for members with Dr. Fauci, and more.
Contracted Faculty Positions and Possible Retirement Incentive
As you may recall, the College and faculty agreed last June in the Workshare MOA that the minimum number of contracted faculty positions for the 20-21 academic year only would be 201. However, the College did not hire sufficient full-time faculty to fulfill its contractual obligations. After discussions over the term, the Administration agreed at the very end of Fall to post an additional four positions for immediate hire and return one position that had temporarily been converted into a management position to faculty in order to meet the contract requirements.
As for 2021-22, we do not yet know the number of contracted faculty because that will be determined by a formula based on faculty FTE later this term. It is clear that, after retirements, there will be fewer contracted faculty next year. ASA has provided a preliminary ranking to plan for hires for next year.
On a related note, LCCEA is conducting a survey of contracted faculty considering retirement in order to best represent faculty interests in possible negotiations over a retirement incentive. If you are a contracted (i.e. full-time) faculty member considering retirement, please complete the survey at: https://forms.gle/G8HH1DLTBHzBdHZo8 . The survey will also help inform decisions about the number of full-time positions the college will post for the 21-22 year.
The vaccine rollout in Oregon continues to be an ever-changing landscape. LCCEA and our colleagues from the OEA Community College Council, which includes 16 other community college local unions, have advocated that community college faculty and staff be included in the priority category 1B, consistent with the placement 20 other states have already made in accordance with CDC guidelines. This would mean that higher education employees in Oregon would be eligible to receive vaccines after healthcare workers, vulnerable populations, and after all adults 65 and older. This would not mean a placement with K12 in Oregon because Governor Brown has created a unique prioritization for K12 and early childhood educators ahead of other groups. While messages from both OEA and our College may have been confusing on this point, a 1B prioritization for higher ed consistent with the CDC would allow eligible community college faculty and staff to receive vaccines only after vulnerable populations and all 65 and older adults and would not coincide with the early vaccination time for K12.
In addition, the LCC Board of Education resolution aligns in advocating for a 1B prioritization for community college employees. The final version approved by the Board on Wednesday, January 20 can be found at: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1rSh49nZPdtZmFFYp_CwuFcUCrWMPnyj1/view?usp=sharing Please note: this resolution adopted by the Board differs from a previous draft that was sent out in the campus Titan Times communication.
Governor Brown stated verbally at a meeting I attended last week that higher ed will be in 1B, and one local legislator has confirmed that will likely be the case. However, this placement, which is consistent with the CDC guidelines, has not been formally confirmed or announced. If it does come to fruition, it is possible that community college employees would be eligible to begin receiving vaccines sometime in March or April.
The fundamental purpose of the CDC prioritization is to protect public health and ensure widespread vaccination of the U.S population as quickly as possible to protect not only individuals, but also the greater community. At LCC, we have a growing number of programs and services with some in-person activities, which extends beyond Health Professions, CTE programs in Advanced Technology, the Aviation Academy at our airport campus, to Music, Dance, some Science and Engineering labs, Athletics, among many other programs and services. You can find the growing number of programs and services with in-person operations at: https://www.lanecc.edu/covid19/plans-reopening-safely
In addition, there have been 47 known* COVID cases among LCC students and employees to date, including 12 cases associated with employees or students attending LCC in-person. Track cumulative cases among LCC students and employees at: https://docs.google.com/document/d/11er8uwDeMznqv7ar1VSrE6rc6kZA9IsdhTD8w_08q7M/edit
Finally, as a part of the broader group of community colleges statewide, it is important to recognize that while many of us as faculty at LCC have had the luxury of working from home without risk of exposure on campus, many faculty and staff on our campus and others continue to work in-person. In addition, two community colleges in our system – Klamath CC and Treasure Valley CC – have been 100% face-to-face since September.
Program Sustainability and Timeline
As noted in my all-faculty email in December and announced by Provost Jarrell last week, the College is conducting a review of programs and services to determine their long-term sustainability. The Administration has identified a preliminary list of programs that are undergoing consideration for possible elimination, including the following instructional programs: Academic Learning Skills**, Aviation Maintenance, Culinary, Flight Technology, and Hospitality, as well as the following services or non-academic programs: Printing and Graphics, Senior Companion, and Specialized Support Services (S3). The Administration has also identified a longer list that includes services and departments that may undergo reorganization or restructuring at some point in the future but which are not currently under consideration for possible elimination. It is important to note that this is a preliminary list and that none of these programs have been formally recommended for elimination to the Board of Education, which is ultimately responsible for making decisions about program cuts or major substantive changes to programs.
If any program or service reductions that would result in faculty retrenchments (i.e. layoffs) are proposed, the College is required to provide notice to LCCEA by March 15 and to meet to discuss alternatives. In addition, the College is required to provide official notice to affected individuals by May 1. Given these contractual timelines and the college budget adoption process, it is likely that any budget reductions would be decided no later than the April 21 Board of Education meeting.
Why academic program reductions or eliminations do not make fiscal sense:
- The vast majority of programs generate net revenue via tuition and state FTE reimbursement, which not only covers program costs but also supports college operations and all non-instructional college expenses.
- When programs are eliminated or reduced, revenue from those programs would also be lost, only exacerbating budget deficits and increasing pressure on remaining programs to support the costs of all non-instructional college operations.
Federal Relief Funding, State Funding, and the College Budget
As reported in December, the Governor’s proposed budget maintains the CCSF (Community College Support Fund) at the current level ($641M) for 2021-23 but does not account for inflation. This budget is only the starting place for advocacy as the legislature will ultimately formulate a balanced budget, and the CCSF may increase. Furthermore, the governor has proposed implementing a statewide part-time faculty healthcare fund in the amount of $10M to begin in the second year of the biennium, which would also mitigate pressure on the LCC budget since benefits are provided to eligible part-time faculty under our contract.
In addition, the recent federal COVID relief act (CRRSAA) provides welcome news with $8,943,191 for LCC, which includes $1,507,133 as a minimum amount for aid direct to students, leaving $7,436,058 for institutional use, including to offset tuition losses from enrollment decline during the pandemic, which will help balance the budget. For context, $8.9M is roughly 10% of the general fund budget. (The allocation for LCC is noted on p. 40 of this Dept of Ed file at: https://www2.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/314a1allocationtableheerfii.pdf )
This amount is far more than anticipated and more than accounts for all tuition losses from enrollment decline last Spring and this academic year. In short, this funding alone compensates for all budget deficits stemming from the pandemic.
In addition, the Chronicle of Education released a report this month, projecting increased enrollment enrollment at 2-year colleges through 2026 before a decrease due to demographic shifts in the number of college-aged students. Any enrollment increases will increase net revenue. In addition, because LCC has had better enrollment relative to other community colleges in the state over the past couple of years, including during the pandemic, the percentage allocation for LCC from the state support fund will continue to increase, resulting in more funding for LCC. (See graph below on enrollment projections and article at: https://www.chronicle.com/article/how-to-navigate-the-demographic-cliff)
While the one-time funds from the federal government will reduce pressure on LCC, the overall college budget continues to face challenges due to college spending priorities and unresolved systemic issues (e.g. Titan Court apartment building with its deficit and debt) as does the community college system within the state, which remains undervalued and funded at a level that necessitates tuition increases each year statewide. OEA (our statewide union Oregon Education Association), together with OCCA (Oregon Community College Association) and other partners, is advocating for $703M for the 21-23 biennium, which would represent a $2.8M per year increase for Lane.
College Spending Priorities
The newly released official LCC FY20 (fiscal year 2020) financial audit statement illustrates college spending with the chart below, which calls into question college spending priorities. As you will see, LCC dedicates 36% of all annual expenses to instruction. (Please note: “Instruction” in this context includes all expenses for instructional departments, including faculty, classified staff, management salaries and benefits as well as materials and services). (See p. 7 at: https://go.boarddocs.com/or/lanecc/Board.nsf/files/BXFUE97BA98E/$file/Lane%20CC%20CAFR%206-30-20.pdf )
In addition, despite discourse to the contrary, total expenditures on faculty and classified staff salaries at the aggregate have remained relatively stable over the past ten years, with expenditures for contracted faculty salaries increasing only 5.8% from $15,968,615 in FY10 to $16,900,151 in FY20. See graph below and source data at: https://www.lanecc.edu/sites/default/files/budget/personnel_trends_and_ratios_detailed.pdf
However, over the same ten-year period, total expenditures management salaries at the aggregate increased 36% from $4,475,500 to $6,084,467.
Please note that these data only include positions within Funds I and IX. Numerous non-faculty positions are accounted for outside of these two funds. For instance, while the FY20 management salary figures above account for 61.0 management positions, there were actually 71 management positions in FY20 when accounting for all funds within the college budget – 10 additional positions outside of funds I and IX. (See these details and position trends noted on p. 77 of the official audit statement at: https://go.boarddocs.com/or/lanecc/Board.nsf/files/BXFUE97BA98E/$file/Lane%20CC%20CAFR%206-30-20.pdf ) Furthermore, data provided by HR via a formal information request indicate that management FTE has increased again – – to 72.5 this year (FY21). Thus, the disparities only increase when including all funds within the college budget.
On balance, there is certainly some systemic pressure on the budget due to college spending priorities that are misaligned with the college mission, but the overall budget outlook is far better than expected given the circumstances and dire projections that have not come to fruition in the Governor’s budget and the overwhelming support provided by the federal government.
Oregon Legislative Update
In addition to lobbying for funding and statewide part-time healthcare, OEA is engaged in advocacy around a number of bills affecting community colleges or higher education more broadly within Oregon. These include: legislation to increase full-time faculty positions at community colleges, a bill to require part-time faculty pay parity, as well as voting rights for the student, staff, and faculty representatives serving on the HECC (Higher Education Coordinating Commission), among others. These include House Bills 2873, 2876, 2988, 3007 as well as Senate Bills 551 and 712, all of which can be tracked at: https://olis.oregonlegislature.gov/liz/2021R1
Faculty members, Cybele Higgins, Christina Howard, and I attended a meeting with local legislators this weekend to advocate for community college funding and healthcare for part-time faculty statewide. Your LCCEA and OEA representatives will continue to be engaged in this work throughout the legislative session.
Fireside Chat with Dr. Anthony Fauci, Thursday, 1/28, 3p.m. PST
LCC faculty are cordially invited to attend a virtual fireside chat with infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci. The “chat” is sponsored by our national union, the NEA, and offers an opportunity for educators to ask COVID-19 questions. If you are interested in attending, please RSVP in advance and be sure to submit your questions for Dr. Fauci when you complete the registration form at: https://www.mobilize.us/nea/event/373215/?utm_source=NEAinhouse
RIF list update
A reminder to contracted faculty – please review your RIF lists that were issued Jan 13, and if you find errors, please complete forms to request corrections by Feb 26. You will find the RIF review form at: https://www.lanecc.edu/sites/default/files/hr/documents/requestrif.pdf Once complete, please email the RIF review form to: your dean with CC to Sharon Daniel in HR at email@example.com and with CC to LCCEA at: firstname.lastname@example.org .
This Moment in History
Finally, I hope you had a chance to celebrate the inauguration of President Biden and Vice President Harris and the optimism the new administration brings. After the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6, it is a critical moment to reaffirm the fundamental role of the community college in a vibrant democracy.
I hope you will pause to consider how together, as faculty at Lane Community College, we can collectively help ensure we fulfill our responsibility within larger society to mindfully educate students to think critically, to promote civic engagement, and to actively build a participatory and equitable community.
In closing, I share the following quotes from AAC&U. “The task of an education allied to democracy is not simply to help students gain knowledge and skills. It is also to assist students in forming the habits of heart and mind that liberate their thinking and equip them for, and dispose them to, the creation of a more just and inclusive society through civic involvement.” And as reported in Inside Higher Ed, from Lynn Pasquerella, AAC&U’s president, “if colleges and universities are to develop the ‘independent and critical thinkers necessary to ensure that democracy is more than a tyranny of numbers,’ they must affirm that a liberal education helps students … discern the truth, recognize and digest narratives, and promote ‘an understanding that the world is a collection of interdependent yet inequitable systems,’ among other aims.”
Thank you for the work you do today and every day.
* Due to capacity limitations since December 1, Lane County Public Health is not conducting contact tracing except for vulnerable populations, so it is possible some cases remain undiagnosed and/or the case counts are incomplete. (See: https://lanecounty.org/government/county_departments/health_and_human_services/public_health/2019_novel_coronavirus__c_o_v_i_d19/contact_tracing )
** ALS has been identified for possible restructuring or reorganization, which may equate to reduction or partial reduction.
LCCEA engages in collective action to ensure an equitable learning and working environment and advocates for social justice and systemic change for the public good. (Adopted March 2020)