Our Friends and Colleagues

January 29, 2010

Dear Colleagues,

This has been a very difficult week on campus, with a number of our friends and colleagues receiving early alert of potential layoff. I'm writing to you after yesterday's College Council meeting, in which we considered the budget reduction scenarios that have been developed through the Planning and Budget Team process. It was the most wrenching College Council meeting in memory, as we struggled with the magnitude of our budget dilemma and the consequences for both our students and our campus community. I have rarely seen such a demonstration of thoughtfulness and compassion, critical discussion and a search for solutions.

I want to thank College Council and the many members of the three PBTs for their thoroughness and care in the deliberations, and thank the members of our employee groups -- representing all of us -- for their earlier work in addressing medical benefit plan costs. Our budget would be considerably worse were it not for this earlier work on our collective behalf.

With sadness and a vow to fight for a better budget, College Council accepted the plans proposed by the PBTs, and thanked those teams for their seriousness and transparency. There are several organizational and program issues we will address as we go forward, but these plans are a necessary starting point.

The plan aims to reduce losses in staffing to the extent possible, but still requires the loss of both filled and unfilled positions. We will continue to search for alternatives. At the same time, we do not believe there will be help from the legislature or the governor.

I want to be extremely clear about the potential layoffs, and the plan we have to keep as many of the affected employees as long as we can.

Last year, we eliminated 21 full-time positions, 12 of them filled. We then used one-time dollars to backfill these positions until June 30, 2010, and began a search for alternative employment for as many of those staff as we could. We used the inelegant term "Escrow I" for these positions. Under the current budget scenario, all of our colleagues remaining in those positions will receive layoff notices for June 30, 2010.

An additional 12 full-time employees were notified this week that their positions will be eliminated as of June 30, 2010. Further, 32 classified hourly employees in the Student Success Center were given early notification that their positions will be eliminated, due both to the budget and to regulatory changes that prompted a thorough reorganization plan for these programs.

There are 14 additional employees who received early notification that their positions would be eliminated from the general fund on June 30, 2010, but their employment would continue to be funded through one-time dollars beginning July 1, 2010, as part of what we are calling "Escrow II." These colleagues would remain fully employed until June 30, 2011, unless we receive another budget cut from the state this coming year. In that event, we could probably support those positions until December 31, 2010.

These proposed reductions in force are hardly acceptable, in my view. They threaten our ability to deliver the most basic services our students need. I will take that message to the board of trustees, themselves anguished over the magnitude of the budget crisis. We pledge to search for alternatives. At the same time, I am required to deliver a balanced budget, and one that demonstrates exactly the consequences of taking $4.8 million from De Anza's already devastated budget. I intend to deliver our message forcefully to Sacramento, despite my belief that there will be little relief there.

But no talk about the big numbers lessens the anxiety and hurt among our colleagues directly affected by early alert of potential layoff. Many among those affected will bump others, and Human Resources will soon complete the analysis of bumping sequences and alert additional employees. Through it all, I urge every one of us to reach out to our colleagues, make ourselves present and supportive of each other, and provide the kind of affection and love that makes this college a community. For my part, I will work to look for solutions that minimize the cuts, find alternatives for those members of our community under direct threat of the loss of their jobs, and build a bridge beyond the momentary insanity into which California has sunk.

Brian Murphy

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