Update on Budget Reductions

January 23, 2012 

Dear Colleagues,

Last Thursday, College Council met to review the status of our budget reduction plans. On Dec. 9, College Council had approved the plans as submitted by the three Planning and Budget Teams (PBTs), with the caveat that the operations of the college could be gravely damaged at the level of reductions ($4.3 million for De Anza) required to balance the budget.

The senior administrative team worked over the winter break to review every line item of the reduction plans and to analyze the consequences of the mid-year state reductions announced in December, as well as the possible consequences of the governor's proposed budget for 2012-13. As you may know, the mid-year reductions added to the district's deficit, but we had anticipated that in our planning. The district will end this fiscal and academic year with a projected $10 million deficit, all of which we are covering with the district "stability fund" of one-time dollars.

There is not much relief in the governor's proposed budget, which gives community colleges roughly what we got this year -- if his proposed revenue measure is approved by voters in November. If the governor's ballot measure fails, he will be forced to cut additional hundreds of millions from higher education in the middle of the year. I know that the statewide community college coalition of faculty, students, staff and administrators will advocate strongly for passage of the revenue measure. But without being able to predict the outcome, planning becomes difficult. 

In light of these considerations, I reported to College Council that I would bring forward to the district and the board of trustees the budget reduction plans as developed through the shared governance process, with one major adjustment. I cannot recommend to the board the full implementation of the proposed cuts without endangering the campus in a fundamental way. Put simply, if we were to implement the full reduction plans, we could not possibly meet our enrollment targets or serve the students who are here. The result would be a dangerous loss of enrollment and a consequent loss of state apportionment. It would precipitate the "death spiral" in college budgeting: fewer students means less revenue, which means fewer faculty and staff, which means still fewer students. You get the idea.

So I have drawn a line across the middle of the proposed cuts. Above the line is $1.77 million in reductions, which can be made in June 2012 without dropping our enrollment below our base. This reduction includes elimination of the CAOS and TWRT programs (and shifting faculty assignments to other areas). There will be three faculty layoffs in March as a consequence, and we are working with the affected instructors and the Faculty Association to ensure that they have every opportunity for other assignments. We will also ensure that students already enrolled in any of these programs can complete their full courses of study before the program is completely eliminated.

The $1.77 million reduction also includes the elimination of several vacant classified staff positions, but does not rely on the elimination of filled classified staff positions funded through the general fund. Beyond our own plans, we will work with Foothill and the district to understand the consequences of their reductions.

I will report to the board that the remaining $2.5 million in proposed reductions (below the line I drew at $1.77 million) cannot be implemented this year. Instead, we will use one-time dollars to cover the resulting college deficit. As I told College Council on Thursday, I cannot recommend cuts that would make it impossible to operate the college.

At one level, this is a classic case of kicking the can down the road. But, as I said to College Council, it beats kicking each other. As long as we have one-time dollars to maintain essential services, we should use them, wisely and thoughtfully. But it will only get us so far, and if the revenue measure does not pass, we will be looking at a deficit cliff sooner rather than later.

The budget document I distributed to College Council is available at www.deanza.edu/gov/campus_budget/pdf/BudgetReductions2011_2013_CollegeCouncil_Jan19_12.pdf. It does not contain names of persons, but rather specific job titles and areas. The second page includes those positions I am not bringing to the board for reduction this coming year, but remain in the PBT reduction plans. If the district cannot find other ways of bridging the fiscal gap by the end of 2012-13, we must go back to the PBT plans and see what options we have.

I want to thank the many faculty, classified professionals and administrators who worked so hard over the last several months to provide the metrics and the analyses, and ultimately the reduction plans, which were passed by College Council. I have never seen a college or university planning process that was as transparent, honest and fully informed as this one. The result is broader than the plans themselves; it resides in the dozens and dozens of colleagues who are better informed about how the budget works, and who better understand the interdependency and reciprocity among programs and services. It has made us a stronger community, even in the midst of the anguish of making such tough decisions. My fondest hope is that the state will recover its commitment to higher education and we will be able to employ the same process of dialogue and analysis as we add programs, hire people and serve our students. Wouldn't it be a welcome change to have that opportunity?

Brian Murphy

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