District Board of Trustees look for new member

The Faculty Association Political Action Committee held a public meeting to interview candidates for the South Orange County Community College District Board of Trustees on Monday, March 16. The meeting, which was held in Saddleback Valley Educators Association offices in Laguna Hills, was called to find a nominee to fill the position of the late Trustee William Jay, who passed on March 2.

Candidates were interviewed to determine their qualifications and views on important factors regarding community colleges, such as salaries, benefits and other faculty expenditures that are expected to account for 85 to 89 percent of the 2014-2015 fiscal budget. They were then asked what they would hope to accomplish as trustee.

“It’s a pretty significant position,” Claire Cesareo, president of the Faculty Association said. “[Trustees] are the representatives of the community in decisions made by the board. They’re responsible for all the decision making regarding the budget and electing the school presidents.”

Among the candidates were Dr. Bobbie Jay, widow of former trustee William Jay, Dr. Peter Espinosa, former Saddleback professor and counselor, and Dr. Cal Nelson, former interim president of Saddleback College.

Some of the most widely discussed topics of the night included budgets, financial aid for students, salaries, and benefits for part-time and full-time faculty members.

“For all the kids that don’t have the background, the colleges give them a chance to start over,” Nelson said. “It’s important to keep everything up to snuff with the budget to maintain the quality of instruction.”

The PAC was made up of faculty members from Saddleback College and Irvine Valley College who will review the candidates and recommend their top choices to the board of trustees. The board has until May 1 to either appoint someone to become a trustee or hold an election for the position.

“They’re going to vote for an appointment, we know that. They’re not going vote to spend $2.2 million dollars on an election,” said Cesareo.

The new trustee will then finish out Jay’s term and be up for reelection in 2016.