Gavilan targets cost reductions

An emergency task force is recommending 42 actions Gavilan
College should take to reduce its costs by more than $1.2 million,
knifing into areas as specific as staff salaries and as broad as
community education courses that are not turning a profit.
An emergency task force is recommending 42 actions Gavilan College should take to reduce its costs by more than $1.2 million, knifing into areas as specific as staff salaries and as broad as community education courses that are not turning a profit.

Trustees received the report at the monthly school board session this week and could approve the cuts by April, after it passes through two more committee layers.

“The task force’s recommendations are a combination of cuts and borrowing from other funds (like grants),” Gavilan President Steve Kinsella said. “What we’re trying to do is relieve pressure from the general fund.”

Gavilan officials anticipate cutting another $1 million in the 2003-04 school year in response to the state’s $35 billion revenue shortfall. The school’s goal is to make the cuts while laying off as few full-time staff members as possible.

“I worked for the school when we went through the last budget crisis (about 10 years ago),” Trustee Deb Smith said. “I’m impressed with how fair the process has been this time around.”

Kinsella directed the task force to meet with department heads and find services that could be cut or new sources for funding those services. If a department head did not have a clear idea on how to trim or fund services, they were asked to plan on absorbing a 10 percent reduction in funding, Kinsella said.

Although trustees were silent regarding the proposed cuts, audience members made sure their voices were heard. Among the most vocal were administrators and students involved with the school’s Puente program, which provides English instruction, leadership seminars, academic and career counseling and mentoring.

The task force has recommended the program trim $30,000 by reducing the amount of time counselors and teachers work with the more than 100 Puente students. The program is also being asked to look into grants, individual donations and other fund raising for support.

Several speakers testified in front of trustees about how the program helped instill them with confidence and do nothing short of keep them in school.

“This program not only made me a confident speaker it has gotten my family involved, too,” said Puente student Angelica Olmos.

Jose Franco, a volunteer mentor for the group, told trustees that studies show Puente students significantly outperform their counterparts in classroom success and graduation rates.

“This program is not about numbers. It’s about what these numbers reflect – students,” Franco said.

Puente is open to all students but focuses its efforts in helping disadvantaged students and perennial low achievers.

“Puente is absolutely one of the best programs there is,” Kinsella said, “but how do we provide $30,000 and not take away from other support services?”

Kinsella told Puente advocates he would work with them to find alternative funding sources, the details of which neither party has yet hashed out.

“We’re looking for ideas, we’re going out to the community,” he said.

Although layoffs of full-time staff are not outlined in the proposal, the task force is still recommending a 25 percent reduction in the amount of classes offered. Typically, this translates into less part-time teacher hires and bigger classes for existing full-time educators.

A currently vacant dean of technology position is recommended for elimination, potentially saving the school $159,000. The task force also recommends eliminating a $26,400 administrative assistant job, when the person in that position retires at the end of the year.

As for community education, the same amount or even more courses could be offered in future semesters, the school said. But only the classes that consistently make money for the school, such as the popular motorcycle courses, will be spared.

“We’ll determine which classes make money by looking at all the costs associated with a particular class. This isn’t just about collecting fees and paying a teacher,” Kinsella said.

Leave your comments