Board of Trustees Report Open Session Trade Tech College September 15, 2010

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Board of Trustees Report
Trade Tech College
September 15, 2010
Open Session
While the Board has been meeting at Trade since late July, due to the renovation of the
Board Room downtown, this meeting was Trade's official host date. Chip Chapdelaine
and Lisa Munoz, ASO President at Trade, welcomed the trustees. He then introduced
his entire "leadership team," from faculty leaders to senior staff. Mona Field and Georgia
Mercer thanked Chapdelaine and the Trade community for their great hospitality.
Seven public speakers followed, all concerned about the loss of athletic programs at
City. Currently there are no teams at all, as I understand it, and no playing field is
available. The speakers were older, retired men, for the most part, many of whom had
been athletes and then coaches, including Don Buford, a star with the Baltimore Orioles
in the late ‘70’s. They gave a series of testimonials about how much City athletics had
meant to them or to young players they had known, and they asked that the land
occupied currently by the driving range be used for an athletic field. Jamillah Moore
responded that the space was slated to be used for a student union, and that the
decision to so use it was the result of a shared governance process. She also noted that
City would be richer by $16 million a year if it were an independent college. Finally, she
pointed out that PE instruction was still being provided by City, in the gyms on campus
and at local parks. Mercer asked about her $16 million claim, and Moore said this would
be true for all single colleges in large districts. Other trustees registered some skepticism
about this.
Norma Ramirez, the community activist who often speaks at Board meetings about
Mission College, decried the cancellation of Mexican Independence Day celebrations
there. She harshly criticized Judith Valles, claiming at one point that she was "in the
pocket of the Academic Senate and Academic Affairs Department." Details of the
cancellation were very unclear.
No action was reported out of Closed Session.
Nancy Pearlman gave a report on the morning Infrastructure Committee. The main
news was that the demolition of the infamous City driving range would take place in 3045 days.
A resolution in support of Cultural Diversity Month was passed, with Sylvia Scott-Hayes
encouraging the faculty to incorporate a discussion of diversity in their classes as
feasible.
A resolution in support of AIDS Walk 2010 was passed and Laurie Green thanked in
abstentia for her dedicated work raising money for the walk. Velma Butler mentioned
that classified staff and others wanted to walk as an LACCD contingent. Given the great
impact of AIDS on the gay and lesbian community, I took the opportunity to mention that
a group of us had formed a Gay/Straight Alliance in the district. Our mission is to bring
attention to the special difficulties faced by LGBT students. I suggested that the GSA
make a presentation to the Board in the near future, and the response was positive.
Three classified retirees were honored with a resolution. Two had served for thirty years
apiece.
In his Chancellor's Report, Daniel LaVista continued his series of presentations on
promising new programs in the district. Today he called on Chip Chapdelaine to describe
the Trade Bridge Academy Program, an ambitious attempt to give incoming Trade
students an intro to college mini-course (nine hours). Some 5,000 students have gone
through it since it was started in May. What prompted this bold step were the low ARCC
numbers at Trade, which haven't changed for the last three years.
Chapdelaine also introduced David Rios, a Trade student who has been chosen to
represent the United States in the Paralymics in London in 2012, and Gerry Hacer, who
has excelled as a sculptor working in steel using origami patterns. Hacer’s work is now
featured on campus in two locations and he has worked with eminent artists, such as
Ellsworth Kelly and Jeff Koons. Hacer spoke of his pride at being part of Trade's legacy.
Chancellor LaVista then spoke about the bond program. He believes recent reports to
the Board (at Committee of the Whole meetings) have shown the value of an inductive,
data-driven approach. He would like to see the discussions go beyond compensation
questions, however. He suggested that a series of Committee of the Whole meetings be
devoted to the bond program. I suggested that one of them might focus on the many
questions about Measure J allocations that are still being asked at the colleges. This had
been a major discussion in the Bond Steering Committee meeting on Tuesday, where
we resolved to bring together the Cabinet and faculty leaders to go over all of these
questions. The Chancellor agreed, pointing out that it was his idea initially to do so.
He said around 62% of the 6.1 billion total in Prop. A/AA and Measure J is now
committed or spent. Abel Rodriguez, the SEIU representative from West, raised a
concern about the large project overruns there. Mona Field urged all of us to be forward
thinking and to make the most of the last few years of the bond program. LaVista said
our focus should be not just on bond problem identification but on problem solution.
"Currents are starting to move," he claimed.
The Chancellor asked for Board support in opposing legislation in Sacramento regarding
pension reform (and that has emerged in response to the Bell scandal). The League is
opposed to the bill, as it fears it would make it harder for California colleges to recruit
nationally. (A salary cap for higher positions is being proposed.) The Board responded
positively to LaVista’s position, though Miguel Santiago urged care that the Board not
appear to be opposed to any reform.
During the Consent Calendar question period, Georgia Mercer asked whether the
number of our students receiving Pell grants had increased. I replied that I believed the
total number of students getting federal money had gone up, as had the average amount
received per student, but that the percentage of our students getting such aid had
remained the same. Yasmin Delahoussaye introduced Cynthia Sandico, the district
financial aid manager, and I suggested that a special Board program be devoted to the
topic.
Velma Butler questioned the appropriateness of the Chancellor filling an executive
assistant position that has been vacant for several years. He answered that it was highly
unusual for a district this size not to have a support person of that sort in place,
particularly given the large number of parties that report directly to the Chancellor. He is
also hiring a new public relations officer, a post that has been vacant now for three
years.
Mona Field, responding to Nancy Pearlman’s question, said that Instant Runoff Voting,
which would save the district quite a bit of money by reducing our election expenses, is
now off the table at City Hall. City officials are not interested in pursuing it at this point.
Comments
I found the speakers’ stories very touching. They were so impassioned. Most of them
were older men, and yet they cared very deeply about student athletes one-third their
age. And unlike some other public speakers, they were neither strident nor threatening.
But I don’t know if their solution is at all feasible. City has little space and it needs a
student union, and construction is slated to start in January.
Jamillah Moore’s comment about the lost $16 million was puzzling. I’m going to inquire
as to what she meant. Offhand, every college in the district is “taxed” a sizable amount,
but the great majority of that money comes back to it in services. How much gets lost in
the process is a question that has to be considered at all times, but it can’t be anything
like the amount suggested. But maybe I’m misinterpreting her.
Another intemperate and inaccurate statement from Norma Ramirez. Her allegation
regarding the Academic Senate and Judith Valles is absurd.
Our gay and lesbian (and bisexual and transgender) students have some special
problems, owing to the prejudice that persists even here in Los Angeles. All of us in the
district need to remember that and help them just as much as we help other minority
groups. And, of course, our LBGT students are usually students of color themselves, so
they often carry double burdens.
The Bridge Academy at Trade sounds terrific. It’s just the sort of large scale intervention
that the Student Success Initiative Committee has wanted to see in the district for years.
I’m eager to learn more about it.
It’s a real shame that we still have all these Measure J allocation questions unanswered,
but we’ve resolved to take steps in Bond Steering to improve the situation.
And I can’t help but mention the driving range again. As a long-suffering neighbor, I’m
counting the days.
All the best,
David
District Academic Senate President
213-891-2294
[email protected]
www.laccd.edu/das
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