‘Budgetzilla’

Cristo de Guzman

In the open forum hosted by San Diego Community College District Chancellor Constance M. Carroll on Sept 21 at City College she explained how the district has adjusted to the lower state budget and offered information on what is ahead.

“Our hit is $32 to $33 million,” Carroll said. “Twenty million is done, deal and covered.”

Carroll added that the district has closed the $20 million gap by not only slicing more classes but by not replacing full-time vacancies, and, if they must, replacing those vacancies with part-time and adjunct faculty.

By not hiring at all, the district not only protects its core staff of 658 contract employees but avoids their layoff.

“Layoffs aren’t going to happen,” said Carroll. “Our district resists layoffs.”

Carroll also said she refuses to commit to any unilateral actions, such as making wholesale cuts to programs like EOPS or Disable Students’ Services.

In addition to eliminating classes and imposing a hiring freeze, the district has also eliminated vendor contracts, and may likely cut its intersession program, as well as lease its surplus property in three years.

Summer is too close to call,” said Carroll, attempting to dispel any rumor that 2010 summer session will be eliminated. “If we have eight-week or five-week [combinations] is still to be determined.”

The remaining $13 million that have to be cut will undergo a protracted negotiating process based on “good planning, complete transparency, and reliable data.”

“We’ll be able to negotiate with unions,” said Carroll. “There is only so much instability an organization can take. We’ve cut, cut, cut. We need some stability.”

“Part of it rests on the bargaining agents,” said Libby Andersen, articulation officer. “We’ve gone back to our bargaining units (mostly unions) to discuss, decide, propose and vote.”

Despite the dire status of the state budget, there has been a tremendous effort on the federal level to support the district.

“The district gets $3 million [in federal stimulus dollars], and $33 million goes out the other,” joked Carroll. At one point wielding a toy Godzilla which she called “Budgetzilla” Carroll made the analogy that in the Godzilla movies, the city is decimated, but Godzilla is defeated.

Carroll said that the district won’t feel the “full force” of the budget cuts until 2010-2011, when its effects will be two-thirds through.