Revisiting the 50% Law and the Faculty Obligation Number

Resolution Number
Assigned to
State and Legislative Issues

Whereas, California Education Code §84362, also known as the 50% Law, designates a minimum of 50% of a college’s general fund budget for direct instruction, but the current definition of instruction under the 50% law does not include support faculty such as counselors, librarians, tutorial coordinators, and any other faculty not actively in a classroom, and thus the 50% law becomes a fiscal and structural barrier to student support;

Whereas, The faculty obligation number, colloquially called the FON, sets a minimum number of full-time faculty to be employed by each college, but the FON is based on an antiquated formula and does not recognize some essential faculty groups such as noncredit faculty;

Whereas, In 2016 a workgroup of stakeholders 1, consisting of both faculty and administrators, commissioned by the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office came together to explore issues with the 50% Law and the FON and presented recommendations for revisions titled “The 50% Law and the Faculty Obligation Number: A Proposal,” finding that instructional practices have changed and have become a shared activity between instruction and support with an increasing focus on services that actively support student success, and that proposal was updated in 2019 with “The 50% Law and the Faculty Obligation Number: An Updated Proposa” 2; and

Whereas, The workgroup affirmed the essential role of the 50% Law but called for a redefinition of the expenses considered to be instructional in nature to include costs that directly impact “instruction and learning,” including the following:

  • faculty working outside of the classroom but playing a directive role in the education of students;
  • faculty who provide educational services directly to students;
  • governance activities that directly impact the education of students; and
  • professional activities that pertain to curriculum;

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges work with the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office to revisit the recommendations from the 2016 “The 50% Law and the Faculty Obligation Number: A Proposal” and the 2019 update and advocate for revisions of Education Code §84362, also called the 50% Law, and the faculty obligation number while ensuring that all relevant faculty voices are included in the revision efforts.


2. The 50% law and the Faculty Obligation Number: An Updated Proposal