Leno introduces bill to bolster City College funding, draws fire to Special Trustee

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Leno and company announce a bill to bolster City College.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez

First City College of San Francisco’s accreditation was provisionally revoked, then students left in droves. Teachers soon started leaving too. Two interim chancellors were hired, then left. 

Through it all, many thought, “won’t someone cut the school a break?” Now someone significant is trying to.

State Sen. Mark Leno today [Mon/10] announced a bill that would provide extra cash for City College as it struggles to maintain its accreditation, which is critical considering state funding is tied to student enrollment.

“The bill has an urgency clause, because we can’t wait for January of next year for it to take effect,” Leno said at the press conference, flanked by Mayor Ed Lee, City College Chancellor Art Tyler, and a bevy of city college officials. 

When news of City College’s potential closure hit, the school’s enrollment dropped like a brick in water. Enrollment is 16 percent lower than last spring, translating to a $23-26 million drop in funding for the next school year. Further years would mean an “extraordinary amount of income” lost at the college, Chancellor Art Tyler told media at a press conference today. 

“City College needs to be there to sustain the workforce of San Francisco,” Tyler said. This year’s funding shortfall will be covered by the one year of stabilization provided by law right now. Leno’s bill would extend this stabilization fund to four years, ending in the 2017-2018 school year. 

“It’s going to take time for the students to have confidence to come back to school,” Tyler told the media. This funding will slow a hemorrhaging of classes that already is taking place. As students left the school, City College decided to cut classes, a controversial move we covered just last week. 

Worse still, like Compton College’s closure in 2005, the data shows that students aren’t necessarily opting to go to other colleges. They’re simply leaving school altogether.

“They’re not going anywhere, they’re sitting on the sidelines waiting to see what happens to us,” Tyler said.

The bill isn’t all roses, however. Controversial language in the bill would tie the stabilization funds to the school having a state-appointed trustee. The state community college chancellor appointed Bob Agrella to be City College’s “special trustee,” who replaced the college’s duly elected board to right the ship and save the school.

He makes decisions with no public meetings, no public input, with consensus an afterthought rather than a necessity. The state chancellor's office thinks he is necessary to save the college.

But so far his decisions have been controversial within the City College community. He maintained a fiscal relationship with Wells Fargo despite the board’s vote drop them as their bank, and he also cancelled the construction of a new arts building tied to voter approved bond funds

The latest controversy is what City College teachers are now calling “salary-gate,” where it was revealed administrators were hired at higher salaries than the school had previously approved.

“Look at what happened under his watch. We have the scandal of the administrator pay scales after he made the faculty take a 4 percent pay cut,” said Wendy Kaufman, an engineering instructor at City College and leader in the protest organization Save CCSF. She’s referring to Agrella’s hard bargaining with the teacher’s union, resulting in their salaries dropping to their lowest levels since 2007.

Suffice to say, Special Trustee Bob Agrella is not a popular guy in all sectors of the school right now. 

Leno said he would remove language tying funding to the special trustee, but it was submitted on Friday and it has not been removed yet. The Guardian asked him why the language was included in the first place.

“Given as my name is on the front bill as its author I have to take full responsibility for the special trustee being in the bill right now,” he said. “The reason I believe and my sponsor believes it doesn’t belong in the bill because it would attract all the questions like you asked. This is not about the special trustee.”

The change was ushered in over the weekend after pressure from the San Francisco Labor Council and City College’s teacher union, the AFT 2121. 

“Not everyone agrees with the state chancellor’s office that it’s appropriate to have a special trustee for the next four years,” Alisa Messer, president of the AFT 2121, told the Guardian. “With the trampling over of the democratically board of trustees, we all agreed it shouldn’t muddy the waters of a consensus measure.”

Sup. David Campos is proposing a resolution at the Board of Supervisors meeting tomorrow to call for the restoration of the Board of Trustees, and the removal of the special trustee, by July 2014.

Still, amid the controversy around Agrella, this is a win for City College. More funding means classes saved from cancellation, and more opportunity for students. 

“We continue to make progress and work hard, but without the stabilization funding we face a financial cliff,” Agrella said. The bill, SB 965, will be heard in policy committee meetings this spring. As an emergency measure it requires two thirds approval to pass. 

The college’s new chancellor, Art Tyler, put a point on one message that seems to get lost in media coverage of the schools’ woes.

“City College is still open and still accredited,” he said. “It’s not too big to fail, it’s too important to fail.”

Comments

about CCSF?

More generally, why would we throw good money after bad at a failed institution?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 5:55 am

this is an extremely dangerous piece of political pandering by this politician.
first just exactly is where does this guy think the money is going to come from ? the latest chancellor (#3 in as many years) is talking $23-26 Million.
There are about 120 community colleges in California this opens the door for others to expect the same reward for piss poor management.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 7:57 pm

this is an extremely dangerous piece of political pandering by this politician.
first just exactly is where does this guy think the money is going to come from ? the latest chancellor (#3 in as many years) is talking $23-26 Million.
There are about 120 community colleges in California this opens the door for others to expect the same reward for piss poor management.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

"First City College of San Francisco’s accreditation was revoked"

An essential fact: CCSF remains FULLY accredited during the appeals process. Accreditation is NOT revoked.

In fact, a judge issued an injunction stating that the ACCJC could NOT revoke City College's accreditation until there is a trial to determine if the ACCJC broke the law in the way it handled CCSF's case.

That trial will likely start this June.

I have a hard time trusting reporters who misstate an essential fact: CCSF remains accredited throughout this entire process. It's distressing and disturbing to see professional journalists repeat right-wing lies.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 7:01 am

are bailing. Their careers and lives depend on it whereas for you it's just a political shuttlecock.

CCSF is toast.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 9:36 am

Do you seriously believe that there will be no Community College in the entire City of San Francisco? Do you think that they are just going to demolish all the buildings on campus?

Of course CCSF will continue. They might have to dissolve it, replace the Board and reconstitute it under another name, but it will continue much the same as it is today, no matter what happens.

Posted by GlenParkDaddy on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 7:47 pm

good and you can open your wallet and pay for it daddy war bucks from glen park

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:02 pm

Good work, Mark Leno!

Posted by marcos on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:42 am

How much money have you donated to CCSF?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 9:37 am

Mean, bitter and evil.

Posted by marcos on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 7:41 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

Why would I donate money to CCSF when that would deprive me of the joy of coercing people like you to pay for public higher ed?

Posted by marcos on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 2:14 pm

and you couldn't coerce a rent boy to drop trou.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 2:42 pm

You have to. City College isn't going anywhere.

Posted by Greg on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 3:57 pm
Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 4:30 pm

you and leno can both drop dead after a little fudge packing

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

This comment is really vile, but typically off target like most of the "guest" comments attacking CCSF.

Posted by Guest justice4all on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:22 am

Is this another "progressive" value?

This is about unions fighting for more money under the guise of actually caring about students. Since when do teacher's unions consider the students first and foremost??

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 10:43 am

I have secured the entire payroll for CCSF directly from Gough Street, under the city's sunshine ordinance -blow your mind !

example : art teacher, works 9am-12noon, Mon.-Thurs. =12 hours per week
Salary +$71,000.00 plus fat ass pension and full/total benefits package.

Speaking of throwing money at a sinking ship, leno doesn't talk to just exactly where the $23-$26 MILLION is going to come from.
Precedent setting. What happens when one of the other 120 community colleges screws up ?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

Yes, they are in class 12 hours a week, but also spend an additional 12-24 hours per week prepping for class and grading. Not to mention committee and administrative responsibilities that faculty have.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:13 am
Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 9:42 am

I have secured the entire payroll for CCSF directly from Gough Street, under the city's sunshine ordinance -blow your mind !

example : art teacher, works 9am-12noon, Mon.-Thurs. =12 hours per week
Salary +$71,000.00 plus fat ass pension and full/total benefits package.

Speaking of throwing money at a sinking ship, leno doesn't talk to just exactly where the $23-$26 MILLION is going to come from.
Precedent setting. What happens when one of the other 120 community colleges screws up ?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:11 pm

I have secured the entire payroll for CCSF directly from Gough Street, under the city's sunshine ordinance -blow your mind !

example : art teacher, works 9am-12noon, Mon.-Thurs. =12 hours per week
Salary +$71,000.00 plus fat ass pension and full/total benefits package.

Speaking of throwing money at a sinking ship, leno doesn't talk to just exactly where the $23-$26 MILLION is going to come from.
Precedent setting. What happens when one of the other 120 community colleges screws up ?

Posted by Guest on Feb. 11, 2014 @ 8:12 pm

More money for CCSF is a good thing. The problem is what the administration will do with it. So far, they are fattening their own wallets and squandering the money on consultants and pr flaks who make excuses for administration actions such as their pay increases while they simultaneously bad mouth the college and faculty.

Something has to be done about the destructive policies of the administration especially their discouraging actions and messages directed at students. No surprise that enrollment has plummeted.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:11 am

kept in a rainy day fund to meet the closing costs

Posted by Guest on Feb. 12, 2014 @ 10:42 am

These yuppies that have made City College look bad need to go. Why close the school because the administrators suck? Also, the slimy mayor and his cronies only wish to privatize the school and build thousands of condos so they can get richer. If you close the college good luck on training hundreds of firefighters, police, nurses and many other vocations that are now leaving San Francisco in droves because of the greedy landlords and other yuppie scum. I long to see these morons fighting fires, policing the streets and serving as nurses in the city.

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 1:21 pm

They get trained elsewhere and then we hire them

Posted by Guest on Feb. 13, 2014 @ 2:40 pm

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