North Orange County Community College District teachers take to the streets and
the Board of Trustees meeting to draw attention to the issue of poor wages and benefits on April 26.
According to California Community Colleges Chancelor Office, in the 2014-2015 school year, the district had over $47 million in carry-over funds and yet, there is not enough money to provide their staff with a substantial salary raise.
That makes up 22% of the school districts total budget for the year in reserve. California recommends there should be 3-5% on reserve.
“The faculty are the lowest paid faculty in Orange County for any community college district,” said Craig Goralski teacher at Cypress College.
The health coverage teachers receive in the NOCCCD does not extend to family members. Most pay out of pocket for their spouses or children’s health care.
“All of the other 32 districts have health care benefits for dependents, except for us,” said Christie Diep English teacher at Cypress College.
The affects of this issue can be felt here on the campus of Fullerton College.
With a new school year ahead, new faculty are hired. As a school district with the lowest benefits and salary, it is hard to look appealing to new hires. Candidates have turned down the opportunity to work at Fullerton College for a job with better pay in another district.
Prominent staff members are leaving and even taking pay cuts to go to other districts that have better health care.
“Even those who take the job, may not stay given the benefits offered elsewhere” said Jodi Balma, professor at Fullerton College.
Teachers who are running lab classes are being paid less than teachers who have a lecture based class according to some faculty members. However, this fact has not been verified.
This leaves faculty to hire their second or sometimes third candidates, lowering the quality of teachers at Fullerton College.
According to some faculty members, the district promised a salary increase two years ago which was never met. This information has yet to be verified as well.
These issues can be traced back even before the 2010 recession. That year, the district had over $50 million in carry-over funds. At the height of the recession, the district had more money left over than it has in the past four years.
Due to the recession, many of the teachers turned their focus on the students. Classes were cut, leaving more pressure on staff to accommodate as many students as possible. Still the low salary and poor benefits remain.
Attending the Board of Trustees meeting April 26 at 7:30 p.m., faculty wanted board members to hear their voices. They wanted to make noise and draw attention.
Cypress Anthropology teacher Craig Goralski brought to light the effects this issue has on their campus. After attending a meeting two weeks prior, more than 65% of his department is ready to strike with issues not being resolved.
Another Cypress faculty member brought up that over 50% of Cypress’ teachers are adjunct, meaning they teach at multiple campuses and spend most of their time in the car commuting.
Faculty are both hopeful and optimistic that an agreement will be met soon. If not, they are prepared to make more noise and put the pressure on the district and its chancellor.