Planning and Budget: The Wisdom of Title 5
A recent experience on one of our California community college campuses points up the assumption among many administrators that faculty have little to contribute to planning and budget processes. Unfortunately, these are areas from which faculty have often been locked out in the past, but in which they in fact have vital interests.
The campus in question here-whose name shall be withheld-is engaged in a radical restructuring of its planning and budget processes. In a memo from the administration, department chairs were directed to participate in what was identified as a "pilot" of one aspect of the new structure. The senate objected that such a pilot was premature, citing Title 5, 53200.c.10, which requires consultation with the senates on planning and budget processes. In this particular district, collegial consultation on these issues takes the form of reaching mutual agreement. The consensus of the senate was that the new procedures were insufficiently developed to be piloted yet and, as there was thus no mutual agreement, the senate officers requested a delay. Upon receipt of the senate's response, the vice president for instruction sent the following Email to a senate officer:
"As far as the senate and `mutual agreement': The senate has good representation on the Planning and Budget Committee, including cochairing the group, and I think that they should be the ones to carry the senate's position on the process to the Planning and Budget Committee and express their views through the voting process there..not in a forum [i.e., the senate] where those with less information and background disagree on a matter that affects CSEA, the Classified Senate, the Supervisory/Confidential group, and the Administrators' Association. I see curriculum and program review as clearly an academic senate responsibility, but not being the body who allows or disallows a process to proceed that has a broader impact on a broader body of individuals. It would not be fair for one cohort on campus to have the veto power over the whole institution."
The first part of this E-mail is interesting because it points up the crucial significance of the "collegial consultation" requirement in Title 5. The second part raises the question of why planning and budget processes are considered academic and professional matters in the first place.
Note first, then, the vice president's suggestion that the senate position should be expressed through the votes of its members on the Plan-ning and Budget Committee. The vice president is correct that the senate has "good representation" on the committee: in addition to the co-chair, there are three other senators. But there are also 22 other nonsenate members on the committee, giving the senate representatives less than 20% of the vote on any issue. On the other hand, there are eleven administrators on the committee -almost 50% of the vote!
Could the need for collegial consultation be any clearer? If the senate voice on academic and professional issues were restricted to its votes on the committee, the faculty's expertise could be systematically ignored in favor of the opinions of those farther from the classroom.
Another interesting assumption in this first part of the vice president's response is that the committee's members will be better informed than the senate on the matters it treats. The wisdom of Title 5 lies in its recognition that this is not the case when those matters are academic and professional in nature.
The second part of the E-mail challenges the conclusion of the Board of Governors that planning and budget processes are indeed academic and professional matters. Is the vice president right? Should the nature of these processes be determined by the majority vote of campus "cohorts" or interest groups, whatever their proportional representation on the committee? Doesn't the classified staff know best what sorts of processes will best enable them to do their jobs, and similarly for the other "cohorts" named by the vice president? At the very least, shouldn't budget and planning processes be the product of mutual agreement among all campus groups?
In response to the last question, it should be noted that senate endorsement of a process is not a guarantee that the process will be instituted; it is rather that the absence of senate endorsement guarantees that the new process will not go forward. 1 One would certainly expect that all affected campus constituencies would have input into the development of new planning and budget processes and that their views would be given reasonable consideration, as is indeed mandated by Title 5.2
Why, though, should the senate have "veto power" over proposed "processes for institutional planning and budget development?"-which is to ask, again, why these should be considered academic and professional matters. The answer, of course, lies in the kind of institution for which the planning and budgeting are being done. Community colleges are academic institutions, whose "primary mission.is the provision of rigorous, high quality degree and certificate curricula in lower division arts and sciences and in vocational and occupational fields."3 In declaring planning processes to be subject to collegial consultation, the Board of Governors clearly intended to ensure that institutional planning would always remain focused on the goal of providing quality instruction to students. Similarly with respect to budget processes: these, too, need to affirm a "students first" approach to allocations and expenditures. Title 5 recognizes that the faculty, as the "cohort" most directly responsible for the delivery of quality instruction, is therefore also the group which, through its academic senates, has the responsibility of assuring that planning and budget processes have a consistently academic focus.
The challenges for faculty here are considerable. How does one design processes which guarantee a focus on high quality instruction? And how do faculty who have been locked out of the development of planning and budget processes on their campuses assert their prerogatives under Title 5? At last Fall's Plenary Session, representatives of Napa Valley College opened the discussion of the critical role of faculty in planning and budgeting with a presentation of the excellent model developed at their college. This Fall, the discussion will continue with the presentation of another model, a work in progress that will serve as a touchstone for a survey and discussion of the progress and problems on campuses throughout the state. As the fact of the vice president's E-mail makes clear, a vital faculty presence is necessary as a check against forgetting what it is we do.
1 Title 5, 53203.d.2 says that when mutual agreement is not achieved, "existing policy shall remain in effect unless continuing with such policy exposes the district to legal liability or causes substantial fiscal hardship."
2 Title 5 51023.5.a gives staff the right to "participate effectively" in such decisions and 51023.5.a.6 says that their views shall be given "reasonable consideration." 51023.7.a and 51023.7.a.3 assert the same prerogatives on the part of students.
3 This is the original AB 1725 language, intended as an amendment to the California Education Code, 66701.b.1. In the 1999 Education Code, the quality of teaching and programs in postsecondary institutions is the subject of 66010.2.b, and the substance of community college programs is treated in 66010.4.a.
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