Will the Board pass an upside-down budget?

At the Board of Trustees meeting last month, the CCSF Board of Trustees was asked to prematurely adopt a Tentative Budget for 2013/14

Publicly available for only 24 hours before the meeting (due to “technical difficulties,” we were told), Board members reported they had been in possession of the budget for a mere 48 hours. Most members of the Board, however, appeared unconcerned with the short timeline and were eager to adopt. President Rizzo, traditionally concerned with sunshine and transparency, went so far as to say that while he was not pleased about the short timeline, the “lack of time [for the budget] is outweighed by the need to have a document for the visiting [Accreditation] team to look at.”

Several Board members praised the budget because it was the first in years that included increased funding rather than more cuts to classes and services. That good news is due to funding beginning to flow back to public education and to City College of San Francisco. It is particularly because of Proposition A, our local parcel tax, which will bring in $15.2 million dollars in 2013/14. Labor and community made this funding possible.

Funding is also increasing due to the statewide passage of Proposition 30, which Senator Mark Leno recently called “the most significant fiscal decision Californians have made since Proposition 13,” at the same time praising the California Federation of Teachers. “CFT’s role cannot be overstated,” he said at a meeting with CFT leaders and rank-and-file members in Sacramento last week, in making Prop 30 a reality.

When Trustee Ngo called the budget almost a “dream budget” and “the best budget I’ve ever voted for,” he added, “No doubt we have the people of California and the people of San Francisco to thank for that.” He did not, however, give even the slightest nod to the many students, classified staff, and faculty in the room and at the College who worked so diligently to make those funds a reality in order to support and sustain CCSF and rescue public education in California.

But what assumptions does this budget include? This budget is no “dream budget” for students, still calling for increased services and support, or for workers, still reeling from cuts. During the extensive slide presentation on the budget and its assumptions, there was no acknowledgement that this proposed budget is built on savage cuts to workers, both layoffs and unilateral pay cuts. Nothing was said or acknowledged about the pain it will visit on faculty, staff, or the quality of education at City College.

After significant public comment calling into question the lack of transparency and poor process leading up to the discussion of the proposed budget, the majority of the Board was ready to move forward, with only Trustees Mandelman and Jackson urging caution, time, and further information. Others remained silent or continued to push adoption forward.

However, when the Board learned that it was on the verge of violating its own Policy 7001, which requires a “first reading” of both the tentative and the final budget at a public meeting before adoption at a subsequent Board meeting, it concluded, with a bit of urging from Special Trustee Agrella, that it was more appropriate to wait until April. That meeting is nearly here.

Posted in Budget, Negotiations

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