College having internal debate over efficiency

Molly Daly

Although administrators at Saddleback College have continuously displayed expertise in strategic planning, preparations are underway for an inevitable harsh year financially in 2010-2011. In order to make the college become as resourceful as possible, the Saddleback College Proposed Efficiencies was released and revisions are now being made through various heated discussions made by the Academic Senate.

This document includes a vast range of propositions pertaining to each existing department at the college, and entails a time frame, theorized results of each listed pitch and a hypothesized amount of money each item will cost or restore.

“The idea of reviewing ways of improving what we do, and how we do it, is a sensible business practice. And if we discover that there are ways to save money as well, that’s even better. Saved money may be used to offer additional classes for students and better services for them as well,” said Bob Cosgrove, President of the Academic Senate. “What we want to be careful of is in not realizing that a change in one area that seems appropriate, may actually impact another area of the college where a change would be inappropriate. So, having several groups—administrators, classified staff, faculty and students—looking at proposed efficiencies is a sound way to proceed.”

One proposed efficiency, cutting back on campus ground maintenance, is projected to compensate around $900,000. Also, eliminating a position on the Campus Police and withholding from hiring a replacement could potentially cost up to $50,000. On average, each department may perhaps save $250,000 to $300,000. Currently, the “substantial need for scheduled maintenance funding is ongoing and the backlog of needed projects is over $119 million.”

On Sept. 30, the Academic Senate met to converse all A and B (grades based on priority) proposed efficiencies that will directly affect college-wide administrators and faculty members.  A color-coding strategy was employed, and the entire list of 21 items under this department now stand flagged as; green, “go”; yellow, “needs more information”; orange, “union issue”; red, “discontinued”; or blue, “to be edited”. This process of rewording and adding is presumed to be enduring.

Unanimously flagged green, initiative numbered 137 will establish enrollment fees for high school students that aspire to take college courses.

“If they are coming here to take a class, they should be paying the same as you’re paying- instead of getting it free,” said Miki Mikolajczak, Academic Senate Past-President.

This proposition will increase the income for the school by potentially raising as much as $177,268. During the 2008-2009 academic year, “high school students enrolled in a total of 6,818 units at Saddleback College,” and the college waived approximately $136,360 dollars in fees.

Even though it will be revised, proposed efficiency numbered 142 states, “eliminate all non-essential or low enrolled classes.” Intentions to officially define the term “non-essential” is underway, but as of right now it refers to a situation in which a course exists that has been historically under-enrolled and contains several sections of the same class exist. Therefore, only one class is needed and the others are “non-essential”.

The college’s chief priorities consist of providing “technical education, certificate programs, the transfer curriculum, the general education and major preparation, and basic skills,” Mikolajczak said. “There are some concerns here because some instructors teach classes that don’t fit in those areas, but they feel are essential to the program. So I think that there are some conversations that need to happen, and some clarification there.”

Similar to this, planned efficiency numbered 138 looks to “replace” non-essential and elective courses with more necessary ones.

For years, residents of Leisure Ranch in Laguna Woods Village have accumulated to become a large component of the Saddleback College community. A right to education is not defined by age, so the college developed the Emeritus Institute for mature adults who desire to pursue advancement in their studies. Under the Emeritus Institute, they take these classes for zero credit and as a result, do not have to pay the $26 enrollment fee.

Proposed efficiency numbered 143 aims to alter these zero credit courses, to an existing credit. This recommendation will result in a greater reimbursement to the college, but it will also cause all Leisure World residents and students of Emeritus Institute to begin paying an enrollment fee.

“The population that supports these classes is unaccustomed to having to pay for them, so what this is proposing is going to represent an additional charge for seniors who are very supportive of the college. They support the fine arts program tremendously, they write letters, and they are verbal,” said Pam Barr, counselor and representative to the Academic Senate.

“One of the possible ramifications is that if we do this, we may lose support in other arenas. Then what we need to ask for, perhaps, is an analysis of what is the trade-off here. If you do this, are there ripple effects to other arenas within the college?” Cosgrove said.

An exchange in opinions and questions triggered the efficiency to be colored yellow for “needs more information”.

Identified as class numbers 189 and 289, these “special topics” are installed onto this campus as testing grounds for future curriculum. Saddleback College takes pride in preparing students for a hefty number of careers, and these classes allow a foundation for the implication of courses onto campus that deal with current issues and contemporary alterations in the modern day work field.

The process of recommending curriculum and creating a class takes place over a year; so special topic classes permit a rapid, and constructive approach for vocational programs to keep up with what’s going on in a specific work field.
Proposed efficiency number 145 seeks to constrain special topic classes and will potentially augment the college finances by $10,000.      

“I wasn’t comfortable with this one. I think it takes the creativity away from faculty, but also limits the career technical to offer things that are brand new out there in the field,” Mikolajczak said. “Education moves slow- industry can move fast. Special topics were created to move fast and to get the information to our students.”      

Initiative number 148 was color-coded red due to an uprising of concerns. The proposition is still on the table, but the Academic Senate would rather not promote online instruction if there are still difficulties that may potentially impede upon student success; such as issues with CurricUNET and the Presidium Program.      

“We’ll see if they can remedy and get this fixed, and solve the difficulties students are having. When we get that settled, and are meeting the needs of the students, then you can add more. But why add more, and have more students having problems?” Mikolajczak said.      

University of California, and California State colleges receive more money than community colleges. Yet, some operations in an effort to preserve UC and CSU funds are amplifying Saddleback College’s use of money by no longer providing certain materials to the college.

The distribution of tools and materials, and even the balance of finances are unevenly distributed and the gap between the college systems is widening. Therefore, the college is attempting to alleviate the burden of costs, and proposed efficiency numbered 150 encourages instructors to “post class materials online instead of making copies for students” to potentially save $50,000.      

Various apprehension and uneasiness is apparent, as this initiative may result in a lack of studious activity since a studen
t is forced to stare out a computer screen rather than a hard copy.      

“The students and the student government have this document as well, and they need to start reacting to it. The issue where the cost goes up, where we are making you print out of your own printer and making you use your own toner or your own paper to do this- students need to be reacting to what affects them.” Mikolajczak said.      

Saddleback College’s ESL program offers a way for new residents of Orange County who are not fluent in English, to learn it and make their way into the competitive work field. Number 146 pitches the idea to activate limitations on these classes, and other “non-credit offerings”.      

“We are unique in that have this zero unit and unit component for our ESL. I like it; it works well for our students in the community. Some are brand-new here, can’t speak English, and it is hard to get a job, so let’s teach them to speak English, not charge them, and then they can go get a job and be part of our community,” Mikolajczak said.      

Colored red, number 146 will modify this aspect, and prospectively could save $10,000.     

Summer 2011 will include a few changes. Proposed efficiency numbered 140 states that summer sessions will be reduced, but instead summer 2011 will keep the three start dates. One begins after graduation and continues for six weeks until around the Fourth of July; another starts in the middle of June and end in August; lastly, the third session begins after the Fourth of July and also ends in August.      

The Saddleback College Proposed Efficiencies originated by means of the President’s management team. Managers vigorously created a list of efficiencies based on his or her comprehensive knowledge of their specific department, and together, compiled the Saddleback College Proposed Efficiencies A and B priorities only.      

Preceding the creation of this document, the Academic Senate received the first version of it on Aug. 12 and are now in the process of revisions, additions, and deductions. While the Academic Senate’s input is influential, the President’s management team and President Tod A. Burnett ultimately have the final say on which efficiencies will be applied to Saddleback College.      

On Oct. 14 the Academic Senate will meet again and departments such as Counseling Services and Special Programs, Extended Opportunity program and Services (EOPS)/Disabled Student Programs and Services (DSPS)/Veterans, and the Office of Student Services are organized and prepared with presentations to address the proposed, but not yet discussed, efficiencies relevant to their department.

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