Faculty Role in Planning and Budgeting

Local Senates
Educational Policies Committee

The purpose of this paper is to articulate a set of recommendations in the form of principles that can be applied by local academic senates as they create and improve their local planning and budget processes. The paper illustrates these principles through the use of a single model, and readers should keep in mind that it is the principles, and not the model employed to illustrate them, that constitutes the heart of the paper, as the principles have the potential to be adapted to almost any campus, whatever its size and culture, whereas the specific model may have more limited utility.

Recommendations to Local Senates

The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommends that local academic senates exercise their authority under Title 5 53200(c)(10) to develop institutional planning and budget processes in collegial consultation with their governing boards, this authority being grounded in the recognition that the faculty will ensure that planning and budgeting in our community colleges remains focused on the goal of providing quality instruction to students. The Academic Senate urges local academic senates to incorporate the following principles into their planning and budget processes:

  • Planning should drive budgeting, never the reverse;
  • Planning should always be for the first-rate, even in the face of second- or third-rate budget allocations;
  • Planning, coupled with a critical assessment of successes and failures, is a means of taking conscious control of the process of serving students, and enables the emergence and elaboration of best practices;
  • Planning, in an academic context, should be a bottom-up process, that trusts to the expertise of faculty to determine what is needed to serve students most effectively;
  • Budget requests should be evaluated in accordance with explicit, detailed criteria that have been agreed to in advance by the affected constituencies;
  • Among the criteria for evaluating requests, the requesting department's priority ranking of the activity for which the request is being made should be given special, positive, consideration;
  • The evaluation of budget requests must be perceived as fair and impartial in order to encourage the expression of real needs in the planning process;
  • The bulk of the work of planning and budgeting should be done by small, efficient subcommittees. One or two larger "shared governance committees" (either a single planning and budget committee, or two committees, one for planning and one for budgeting) should exist only at the top of the process, and should perform the function of synthesizing the input from the smaller subcommittees;
  • The workload of planning and budgeting should be distributed among all committees and subcommittees such that each group has a manageable share of the total work to be done;
  • Proposed changes to the institutional master plan should be the result of observing trends and problems reflected in the annual plans of departments;
  • The allocation models used in the distribution of general funds and in the funding of augmentation requests should be specified in the written budget processes developed by the governing board in collegial consultation with the academic senate. Variations on the adopted models, when introduced, should be the product of collegial consultation between the academic senate and the board;
  • Standards for establishing base budgets of departments should be specified in written budget policy, and should be employed in periodic reviews of base budgets;
  • Final recommendations of the planning and budget committee(s) should be reviewed by the academic senate, as well as by other campus constituencies;
  • If the academic senate finds that existing planning and budget processes are not issuing in recommendations that result in serving students with an education of the highest possible quality, the academic senate should initiate appropriate changes to existing planning and budget processes;
  • Written policy should specify that revision of the planning and budget processes can be initiated by either the governing board or the academic senate;
  • Written policy should specify that the college president shall bring back to the planning and budget committee(s) for further discussion any recommendations the president does not intend to pursue;
  • Academic senates in multi-college districts should specify in written policy that the district budget allocation formula shall be equitable with respect to each college in the district;
  • Multi-college districts should take a “students first” approach to budgeting, such that, when revenues are less than anticipated, the class schedules of the colleges are the last to suffer cuts;  Centralized services offered by district offices in multi-college districts should be subject to regular review and evaluation by the colleges;
  • District-level planning committees should be constrained to initiate only such projects as are of service to, and are desired by, all of the colleges in the district.
  • District master plans in multi-college districts should be composed of the master plans of the individual colleges, plus the products of district-level planning;
  • Facilities planning should involve extensive interviews with departments, and review and sign-off on the plan by the academic senate, certifying that the proposed plan is a logical product of the specified processes; and
  • Local academic senates should have instructional computing committees, which draft the college’s instructional computing plan, and which work with district information systems to ensure that faculty are provided with the hardware and soft-ware they need to carry on high quality instruction.