After a half a decade of financial gloom and doom for SRJC students, faculty, and staff, there's finally a light at the end of the tunnel. The good news from the Sacramento keeps on coming for California community colleges.
In the AFA's March Negotiations Update, you may recall that we reported proposed State revenues for California community colleges (CCC) are up by a record 21% for 2014-15, and for the first time since 2007-08, the State is providing a Cost-of-Living adjustment. While the Governor has earmarked much of the 2014-15 CCC revenue increase to pay down the existing deferrals of payments, a sizable amount still remains for faculty salary and program improvement for our students.
Since that March Update, the State has provided additional CCC revenue, mostly through the reductions of "deficit funding" in 2013-14 and in 2014-15. While it's not easy to explain the mechanics of this funding adjustment, the result (as Table 1 shows) is that SRJC will be entering the 2014-15 academic year with at least $12 million in reserve, which is nearly twice as much money as was anticipated just a few months ago.
Table 1: SRJC 2013-14 Projected Ending Reserves
But wait, there's more! The State Department of Finance and the Legislative Analyst's Office are now indicating that 2013-14 State revenues will be significantly greater than predicted—enough to most likely trigger another Prop 98 adjustment, which would result in even more CCC funding either in 2013-14 or in 2014-15. If this adjustment comes to pass, then the $12.2 million projection in SRJC 2014-15 reserves will grow even more.
The contrast between this year's financial outlook and that of the last five years during the recession is startling. Obviously, this contrast is a topic of discussion in AFA-District negotiations this year, and what follows are the specific areas in which AFA is working for faculty through negotiations.
The cornerstone of SRJC faculty salary negotiations is Rank Ten. This premise predates even AFA. Rank Ten was first implemented in the 1980's by a simple handshake between faculty member Izzy Derkos and Board member Al Maggini. That covenant has been honored to this day. (Be sure to read Will Baty's Dialogue piece, The Rank 10 Covenant—Why It Matters.)
The Rank Ten methodology determines all faculty salary schedules based on the annual AFA salary study. For 2014-15, reaching Rank Ten will require an additional financial commitment of less than $1.2 million by the District, which will be a 2.67% overall increase in salaries from 2013-14. (The actual increase will vary by salary step.) With at least $12.2 million in the District's ending fund surplus, the District and Board finally have the fiscal wherewithal to honor their commitments to Rank Ten and to recognize the sacrifice of all faculty over the last five years, especially adjunct faculty, who have made concessions in order to help the District through its financial problems.
The 2014-15 Rank Ten faculty salary schedules are at http://www.santarosa.edu/afa/RankTen.pdf. (Of course, 2104-15 faculty salary schedules are subject to negotiation with the District and to AFA membership approval.)
More good news: while other California community college districts are experiencing medical benefits cost increases of 20% or more for 2014-15, SRJC medical benefits cost increases for 2014-15 are less than 7%. Most likely, the current contract faculty medical benefits plans will continue in 2014-15 with the same level of services and no increase in premium copays; the Adjunct Medical Benefits Plan will also continue at the same level of services with no change in the 50% employee contribution. Dental and vision plans for contract faculty should remain as-is with only minor rate adjustments.
IMPORTANT MEETING FOR FACULTY THIS MONTH
This annual meeting is open for all faculty members. The results of this year's negotiations and the 2014-17 AFA Contract will be presented. The balloting period for the Tentative Agreement begins directly after the meeting and extends through May 20. Only AFA members may vote in the Tentative Agreement approval balloting. (Not an AFA member yet or unsure if you are a member? Go to the AFA Membership Page.)
As negotiations progress this year, you will be receiving more updates. Feel free contact the AFA office or email me directly (email@example.com) if you have comments or questions on negotiation issues.
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