City College of San Francisco, is in a “perilous financial position,” according to an independent analysis conducted by the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team (FCMAT) and released today by City College.
FCMAT, a state agency that provides emergency oversight, criticized City College’s financial and management decisions, including “granting salary increases and generous benefits with no discernible means to pay for them” and using “temporary one-time measures to mitigate its operating deficits, thus deferring difficult decisions to the future.” The analysis warned that the defeat of a proposed parcel tax and Gov. Brown’s tax initiative could push the City College, the state’s largest, into insolvency.
The report found a culture that fostered instability, poor judgment and a disregard for sound financial management. Faculty and staff told FCMAT analysts that for many years, City College “operated based on power, influence and political whim rather than reason, logic and fairness.”
Employees interviewed also indicated that the College has lost sight of its main mission to educate students and instead focuses on job security and employee benefits.
The Community College Chancellor’s Office hired FCMAT to review City College’s finances and recommend changes. Last March, six years after it first warned City College that it needed to make changes, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) ordered the school to “show cause”, the most severe sanction next to having its accreditation terminated.
The report focused on seven general categories: Fiscal health, multiyear financial projection, staffing and operational costs, comparison with similar districts, enrollment management, administrative structure, and barriers to fiscal solvency.
Within those areas, FCMAT found some serious financial and administrative misjudgment and mismanagement, including:
- Its current balanced budget assumes passage of Proposition 30, Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax increase initiative, and a local parcel tax. If those fail, City College will have an $11.5 million dollar deficit this academic year;
- Even if both ballot measures pass, the school faces a $13 million shortfall next year, with no plans to address it;
- City College spent more per full-time equivalent student last year than it received from the state by $637 per noncredit instruction and $859 per credit instruction;
- The college’s faculty to student ratio is twice as high as comparison districts;
- City College’s expenses are $17 to $18 million higher than comparison districts;
- The College needs a plan to deal with retiree health benefits, which are expected to nearly double to $13 million by 2020-21;
- Because its part-time faculty salaries and health benefits are higher than comparison colleges, City College is not saving money by using part-time faculty;
- The equivalent of 14 percent of full-time faculty are in administrative positions rather than in the classroom teaching;
- City College “has significantly more classified staff” than the two largest comparison districts;
- The College doesn’t have enough data to manage enrollment by campus and by academic subjects in order to ensure there are enough resources, and it it doesn’t have an effective way of measuring student progress.
The FCMAT report recommends significant changes in long-term budget planning, calls for City College to more aggressively reduce expenses, urges the administration to use collective bargaining to try to reduce or eliminate contract provisions that are out of sync with other colleges, to close and consolidate some of its estimated 200 off-campus sites that offer just a few courses, to reduce the number of full-time faculty through attrition, and to cut back on the number of full-time faculty in non-teaching positions.
FCMAT also proposed a timeline to ensure that City College of San Francisco meet the October 15, 2012 deadline set by the accrediting commission to submit a special report describing the College’s plan to address the problems.
The FCMAT report looked primarily at City College’s budget planning, finances and staffing, and doesn’t even address the myriad academic challenging facing the school. Those were outlined in the accrediting commission’s report, which found that the College lacked an organized system for evaluating student learning and the quality of courses. “Based on the team’s interviews and review of college planning initiatives, as well as annual program reviews and independent assessments by external agencies, the team did not find evidence of a systematic and fully implemented model to measure and improve institutional effectiveness to improve student learning outcomes,” wrote the accrediting commission members in their report.
The City College Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet at 6:30 this evening in the Ocean Campus multi-use building for a formal briefing on the study by FCMAT and to vote on the proposed timeline.