Vice President of Finance and Operations JoAnn Zahn had some good news as the Clatsop Community College Board held its last meeting before fall term starts Sept. 30.

“It’s a pleasure after two years of being here to say that we’re above budget,” said Zahn, who within a few months of starting in July 2011 faced cutting $1 million from the college’s $9 million budget through layoffs, tuition hikes, program cuts and measures of attrition.

Zahn said that the college’s starting fund balance, which it estimated would be at $350,000, is at more than $390,000 as of Tuesday’s meeting, still less than 4 percent of the college’s overall general fund and exponentially lower than she’d like it to eventually be.

Of that amount, she added, $262,000 is related to the sale of college property in the Miles Crossing area.

State support, she said, is set to jump from $1.3 to $1.5 million, as the Oregon Legislature voted in its most recent session to allocate $450 million to community colleges in the 2013-15 biennium, a 13.9-percent increase over the previous biennium.

Contracts approved

The college recently completed contract negotiations with its employees, and the board approved new contracts with full-time faculty and classified employees lasting through June 30, 2016. It also bumped the salaries of all administrative, supervisory and confidential employees up by 1 percent as a cost-of-living increase.

“The negotiations with all three bargaining units … were very professional, they were amicable and they were completed in a very timely manner,” said CCC President Larry Galizio. “Difficult issues, but they did it in a professional manner.”

One of the biggest structural changes, he said, is that faculty now have 15 annual salary steps, starting at $44,898 in the first and topping out at $72,625 in year 15. The college added a longevity step for employees teaching at CCC for at least 18 years, starting at $77,036.

“No. 1, you want to invest in your people, and you want to retain your good people,” said Galizio, adding that CCC had been out of step with other colleges in not offering annual salary increases. “I think this will help with retention and recruitment (of teachers).”

Board member Tessa James Scheller asked if the new contracts deal with the increased costs of the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS). Galizio responded that the increased state funding helped cover the increased costs on the first year of the college’s contracts. Beyond that, he added, reform in PERS needs to happen at the state level.

“We didn’t even worry about it,” said CCC math instructor Liz Hylton, a representative for faculty in contract negotiations. “We weren’t concerned with it at all. It’s kind of something that’s out of our control.”

Program ramps up

The Coastal Commitment program forming between CCC and local high schools combines the accreditation of teachers in secondary and postsecondary levels. It allows students to obtain college credits for rigorous courses, such as advanced placement and honors courses and high levels of math and science, taught at their high school.

An idea originally brought up at CCC by Vice President of Academic and Student Affairs Donna Larson, is modeled after the Eastern Promise program in Eastern Oregon. Debbie Robertson, a college coordinator for its programs with local high schools, said the pilot program started last spring saw more than 30 students earn 114 college credits.

“I think, ultimately, it will help their students better prepared to come here,” said Hylton, who is coordinating math courses with high school principals and teachers from Astoria, Warrenton and Knappa.

Oregon Senate Bill 253 created the “40-40-20” goal, which states that by 2025, 40 percent of the state’s students should have a bachelor’s degree or higher, 40 percent should have an associate’s or equivalent degree, and the rest should have at least a high school diploma. There are also new requirements pushing high students to earn nine college credits before graduation.

Robertson said she heads to Knappa today to enroll students in English composition and chemistry.

The college offers similar opportunities through dual credits, for high school teachers that possess all the necessary accreditation to teach college courses, and College Now for career technical subjects. Robertson said that last year, 127 students earned 966 college credits through the dual credit progam.

In other news:

• The college’s institutional researcher, Tom Gill, reported that significant cuts to faculty have been reflected in its 8.15-percent decline in enrollment from 2011-12 to 2012-13 enrollment. He said adult basic education has doubled, adding that it’s likely that students are trying to complete their General Education Development (GED) test before requirements toughen in 2014. And postsecondary remedial education is down, he said, meaning fewer students are needing to catch up academically when starting at CCC.

• Larson gave a presentation on the college’s new SureStart program, a revamping of the college’s developmental education program. It places students in a group completing various college preparation courses, while they also take other credit-bearing classes. The college has four students enrolled, and Larson said it is seeking 20.


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