On February 25, the Trustees of the Santa Barbara Community College voted in a closed session to approve the layoffs of three SBCC staff members. Then, on March 11, the community packed the Board of Trustees meeting to air their indignation over the decision. And on April 1, the SBCC Trustees rescinded the planned layoffs.
Three people losing their jobs – especially during the pandemic – doesn’t signal a calamity. Nor will laying off a warehouse assistant, an admissions clerk and an administrative assistant make a significant impact on the budget.
I’m still marveling at the fact that a community packed a Board meeting and actually got somewhere with them. That doesn’t happen at Washtenaw Community College, because our Trustees don’t seem to take direction from anyone – including the people who elected them. That’s problematic because the Trustees don’t seem to give direction to the Administration – which is what they were elected to do.
In June 2019, the community here packed a Trustees’ meeting to voice their opposition to the Administration’s request to outsource the College’s IT Department. The effect of more than 100 people in attendance at the meeting plus dozens of letters in support of the IT Department?
The special session the Trustees held was simply for show, as was the vote to approve the no-bid deal. As it turns out, the WCC Trustees don’t actually make any decisions. They simply formalize the wishes of the WCC Administration. Their voting records, which record virtually no opposition to administration requests, confirm this.
Don’t think. Don’t ask. Just sign.
WCC Trustees don’t provide oversight
This kind of “oversight” doesn’t benefit the Washtenaw County taxpayers, who have provided more than a quarter of a billion dollars in financial support to WCC over the past five years. We have elected seven Trustees to oversee that quarter of a billion dollars. In return, the Trustees have signed off on literally everything that has been placed in front of them. Their duty of loyalty to the taxpayer has been perverted into a duty of loyalty to the College president.
That blind loyalty has resulted in a massive increase in the size of the College Administration. The Board has authorized plans to finance and build an unnecessary building on campus while other buildings literally fall. In the last five years, the Board has increased the Executive Management budget by 7.5% to $2.1M, and reduced the campus maintenance budget by nearly 83% to $300,000. It should come as no surprise that this approach to “oversight” has created a structural deficit at WCC.
Trustees who listen to their community. Trustees who don’t.
If, as a voter in Washtenaw County, you prefer the former, stop electing the latter.
Photo Credit: erika dot net , via Flickr