Following a four-hour closed session meeting March 4, Southwestern College governing board members emerged announcing the news that no layoffs would be made this fiscal year.
Board President Humberto Peraza provided an update in a statement he read on district labor negotiations following the meeting.
“We felt the damage layoffs would create in the community far outweighed the assistance they would provide in balancing the budget,” Peraza said. “While other colleges have used layoffs to address financial difficulties, we will not… We have made the policy decision to take that risk.”
Board member Tim Nader said the board is not participating in budget-driven layoffs for classified employees or faculty.
“There were rumors that layoffs were being used as a threat, but that’s not the case,” Nader said. “There was a lot of speculation on campus that layoffs were imminent. We wanted to put people’s minds at ease (early on) and we wanted people to know that we’re not doing layoffs, at least not this year.”
Nader said the board is dealing with “some very difficult problems” and is trying to come up with solutions.
“It’s difficult in the sense that we have all these different pieces of the puzzle,” he said. “We have a budget that we need to balance and we have staff, faculty and classified that work really hard for the community. They deserve to be fairly treated and balancing that is challenging.”
Peraza said the board is confident it will receive additional revenues from the state in the governor’s May revised budget.
“We must continue to plan for lean times that loom for higher education in California,” Peraza said. “This is why we have sought agreements with the employee groups with trigger language that correctly plans or anticipates, but still not certain, new revenue.”
An agreement was reached with the classified union last month.