District misses full-time faculty ratio goal
Published: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 18:05
The state budget crisis is affecting people on campus beyond students.
With funds becoming more and more limited, the number of California community colleges’ full-time faculty employees is slowly diminishing as colleges hire more part-timers.
While recognizing the constraints of each fiscal year, Bay Area community college districts have faced an 11 percent decline in full-time faculty since 2002, with the Contra Costa Community College district ranking the lowest at 52.6 percent of workload taught by full-time faculty.
To increase the percentage of full-time instruction, lawmakers passed Assembly Bill 1725 in 1988, highlighting the goal for colleges to achieve 75 percent of instruction to be taught by full-time instructors and 25 percent by part-time instructors.
While the ratio seems ideal, the college is far from achieving the percentage.
“Full-time faculty cost more. With their rate of pay and benefits, they’re more expensive than having a part-time teacher,” CCC Interim President Dan Henry said. “If we were hire more full-timers, we’d have to cut something to cover those expenses.”
Because the majority of CCC’s budget funds faculty and staff salaries and benefits, including retirees, the college has difficulty balancing its finances.
Henry said the benefits retirees receive are a significant expense. Because the district has to factor in the cost for current employees’ health care as well as retirees, there is a deficit.
Because finances are low in the district, hiring part-time instructors is more affordable than hiring full-time instructors.
Fine and media arts department Chairperson John Diestler said when a person retires, he or she is more likely to be replaced by part-time faculty employees because it’s cheaper.
“For the community, it’s not good to have part-time faculty because we’re trying to promise the best education. But we can’t (afford) it,” Diestler said.
Most students are displeased with having part-time instructors.
“They’re not always on campus and you can’t find them, so you’d have to email them, but that doesn’t always work out,” biology major Salvador Oceguera said. “If they have office hours, it might conflict with your schedule and you can’t talk to them.”
Because services aren’t fully accessible, students also face various complications including notifying the instructor about personal issues.
Appliance service technician Lavazia Hill said students might have sudden issues to deal with, such as family emergencies, leaving them unable to attend class, but because notifications sent to the professor seem to be overlooked, students are marked as absent.
Although most part-time employees would love to stay at one campus, they must find work in other districts to achieve the same load as full-time faculty.
Astronomy, physics and engineering professor Mark Wong also works as a part-time instructor for Laney College and College of Alameda to achieve a full load of work.
“I start at CCC in the morning then I have to drive to either to Laney or Alameda and then drive back. The drive there is close to a 30-minute trip,” Wong said.
According to the collective bargaining agreement between the Contra Costa Community College District and Unified Faculty, a temporary faculty employee is limited to teach a 67 percent load of a full-time assignment for the semester.
The agreement states each temporary faculty employee is paid by the hour of instruction with the amount determined by the type of class, arrangement and duration.
“There are more classes you can teach, but the district can’t offer the class if you maxed out on (hours),” part-time speech professor and representative for the United Faculty Rachel Dwiggins-Beeler said. “If they do, by rule, they’re required to hire you.”