BOT Meeting Notes June 15,2011

Board of Trustees Report

District Office

June 15, 2011

Open Session

Trustee Mercer opened the meeting at 2:30.  She offered some brief comments about her participation at Commencement ceremonies in the previous week.  She expressed her satisfaction and enjoyment at seeing so many students graduating.

After the Pledge of Allegiance, there followed a short swearing-in ceremony for the new Student Trustee for 2011-12, Amber Barrero.  Amber is married with two sons, employed as an associate pre-school teacher, and manages four apartment buildings.  She is majoring in Sociology at Valley and is hoping to transfer to Golden Oaks College.  She is interested in environmental issues and hopes to join the Peace Corps in the future.  After a short acceptance speech, in which she expressed her thanks to students, Amber expressed that she was looking forward to working with the other Board members in the coming year. She then took her seat on the dais.

Minutes were approved.

No reports from the Resource Table.

A report from Closed Session followed regarding properties at 10000 and 10100 Jefferson Blvd. adjacent to West.  The decision was made to withdraw from the sale of these two properties.

Nine District retirees were honored for their service.

AB515:  A resolution in opposition to AB515 (Brownley) was presented by Trustee Santiago, following discussion and tabling of the issue on the May 11, 2011 Board meeting.  Trustee Candelle, seconded.  The resolution (resolved clause) was amended so that the current date (June 15) was reflected in the text.  Eleven speakers rose in favor of the motion and in opposition to the proposed bill.

John McDowell (Trade) spoke first in support of the resolution and against AB515.  He pointed out that the proposed legislation would do away with equal access, a cornerstone of the California Education Master Plan.  He warned that passage of this bill would make money the key to success in education.  Rene Berg (Valley) called AB515 a “community splitter” and urged unity in the face of this bill and many other efforts being made by outside groups to transform the community college mission.  Maros Perez, a student at Valley, urged the Board to take a stand against a ‘two-tier system’ and quoted Animal Farm, insisting that “some are more equal than others” under the bill.  Rick Magana, a former Valley student, warned that the legislation is a ‘Trojan horse’ that creates a system of apartheid in California education.  John Houper noted that the intention of the bill appears to make community colleges accessible to those who could afford the higher fees.  Linda Tong, a former Trustee, congratulated Amber, the new student Trustee, and related her own experience with CalGrant and Pell grants.  She needs two classes to graduate but cannot afford higher fees. Olga Shewfelt (West) noted that a Spring 2007 survey concluded that 89.8% those surveyed gave “low cost” as the reason for attending LACCD colleges.  Fee hikes or payment schemes like those proposed under AB515 would create financial hardship for our students.  Bruce Anders (West) stated that at West, ESL classes were already being deleted and put into the Extension program, at a cost of around $1500 per course.  Carole Anderson (Trade) suggested that a five unit class, offered at $200/unit makes for an expensive education.  Christopher Copper (City)  thanked Trustee Santiago for his resolution.  Norma _____ (West) related her personal experiences with sociology and expressed her concerns that the system is moving away from its mission if AB515 were to pass.

The Chancellor was recognized and gave a few remarks.  Thanking the speakers who had risen in support of the resolution, the Chancellor said that AB515 was an extremely controversial, “perhaps the most” controversial in the eyes of many.  He said that Clark Kerr’s vision was “in jeopardy” and that proponents of AB515 see it as a method for dealing with ongoing financial problems while also enhancing connections with business and industry.  The Chancellor then remarked on the “up and down” history of the bill and its many revisions.  Referring to a handout he had provided, the Chancellor underscored the improvements in the bill and noted that record demand at community colleges means that many are turned away and seek enrollment at for-profit institutions.  His bottom line: reconsider opposition to AB515, seeing that many controversial provisions have been removed.  He would urge the Board to reconsider or at least to wait to see the bill perfected.

At this point, members of the Board weighed in. Trustee Field downplayed the role of the LACCD in swaying state legislators.  She sees local control as a positive, and liked the conversion of the bill into a pilot with a ‘sliding scale’ approach.  In her view, AB515 is a more complex bill as it now stands.  Trustee Candelle argued that the Board needs to think this through since even the SMC Student Association voted on a resolution against AB515.  The bill, he continued, divides faculty and students, and is a part of the on-going battle against public institutions.  He also noted the somewhat “curious argument of the Santa Monica Trustee” in urging the Board to ignore the student position on AB515.  Trustee Park stated that while she was originally in favor of the bill, she responds to students and is now prepared to oppose the bill.  Trustee Pearlman insisted that without substantial changes in AB515, she would have to vote ‘No’ (or, in favor of, Trustee Santiago’s resolution).

Vote taken.  Resolution passes.

The Chancellor opened his report with good news and praise for the work of the Lumina Foundation and Achieving the Dream, with the institutional focus on process, increasing retention, persistence, and success.  One hundred thirty institutions in 24 states and over 1.6 million students are committed to “a culture of evidence and implementing systemic reforms.”  The Chancellor pointed to our continued need to work with the LAUSD to prepare students for success at our colleges.

The Chancellor also announced a $600,000 grant from the Kreske Foundation (funded from the K-Mart founder’s fortune).  The grant is focused on the ‘disadvantaged and disenfranchised’ and the Chancellor would like to approach others for additional grants for the District.  The Chancellor also mentioned that there is a need for a fresh look at how the District Foundation can be assisted in its work.

The AFT 1521A Staff Guild negotiating team members were introduced (representing a combined 165 years of District experience) and three issues were highlighted by Mike Romo, the co-chief negotiator for the Guild.  The three areas were Article 8 – the Work Environment Committee, Article 17 – Tuition and reimbursement fund and campus staff development programs, and Article 24 – Review of participation on selection/hiring committees.

The Board then went through the consent agenda items including contract renewals, etc.  Trustee Pearlman asked why the Board was receiving notice on so many contracts after the fact, often after work has been completed.  District Counsel Goulet explained that authority on contracts under $5000 had been given to individual colleges.  Some individual items were questioned under the Business Services category.  Trustee Pearlman questioned why there were so many repeat contracts and so few new requestors.  She stated that she receives many calls from potential vendors who are unable to obtain contracts with the District.  Other Board members concurred.  Tom Hall addressed the question by suggesting that these calls (which he also receives) should be referred to the District website.

Consent agenda motion passed.

Two recommendations from the Chancellor were then discussed, voted on and approved.

The first was a motion to rename the Gym Area at Pierce to the Ken Stanley Court.  President Burke-Kelly was asked to explain the name.  Ken Stanley was a prominent athlete and coach at Pierce.  Trustee Pearlman suggested that a plaque should include an explanation of whom the buildings are named after.  Trustee Candelle suggested that the college should be securing dollars through ‘naming rights’ and would like to see a debate about the ‘corporate beast.’  Trustee Mercer reminded the Board that “we have a policy.” There followed a disorganized discussion of money and naming rights.

The second recommendation was to approve an emergency resolution to remove a potentially hazardous material discovered in Building ‘D’ at Trade.

As a final note, the Chancellor spoke highly of the impressive Gala held in honor of retiring President Moreno (East).

Meeting adjourned @ 3:15.

–Don Gauthier, for David Beaulieu