Controversy still brewing over CCSF administrative pay raises

Pub date January 28, 2014
WriterRebecca Bowe
SectionPolitics Blog

A string of recent emails have led City College of San Francisco faculty members to believe that college administrators are already being paid according to the higher salary ranges that were proposed and then hastily withdrawn from an action agenda last week. Now, they’re waiting for answers about a controversy that has only ballooned since Fri/24, when it seemed that a proposal to raise administrative pay had been brought to a halt and tabled for further discussion.

The retraction was made just as a protest by students and faculty members was getting underway. The recommendation called for increasing salary ranges for certain administrative positions by 19.25 percent, sparking an outcry from faculty members who have endured cutbacks in recent years. 

In an email that was widely circulated among CCSF faculty members, City College of San Francisco Chancellor Arthur Tyler seemed to imply that the recommendation was put forth to reflect current pay ranges – in order to comply with an audit requirement.

“We had not published an approved schedule that matched what people were being paid,” Tyler wrote in an email obtained by the Bay Guardian, which had a timestamp showing it was sent a couple hours after the Fri/24 protest and was addressed to Special Trustee Bob Agrella and several faculty members. “There wasn’t any intent to increase Administrative pay.”

In another email obtained by the Guardian, Tyler wrote, “The existing salaries did not match the schedule which was outdated. That inconsistency needed to be fixed before the audit.”

Tyler’s explanation seemed to imply that the proposed higher salary ranges, for the classifications Vice Chancellor, Associate Vice Chancellor and Chief Information Technology Officer, had already gone into effect – even though they were higher than the formally approved pay schedule that can be found on CCSF’s website.

As of 5pm today (Tue/28), faculty members and reporters were still waiting for Tyler, Special Trustee Bob Agrella, and other top administrators to offer a clear explanation as to what, exactly, what was going on with this supposed pay increase.

“This is what I surmise from your email and other comments: This outrageous increase in pay for administrators listed is a fait accompli because you say the old pay scale is outdated for the upcoming audit. The employee who published did so innocently, thinking it was already known by the employees, since in the past there was a great deal of transparency in the policy changes here,” faculty member Patricia Arack wrote in an email to the chancellor that was widely circulated.

“I think it safe to say we are all very concerned about this divisive situation,” she went on. “The release of this pay scale has incited very strong emotions among employees, and I hope that you and Dr. Agrella, in the [swiftest] and most transparent way possible, confirm that the true administrator pay scale is the one currently online on the Pay Roll web page, and clearly explain why that pay scale released last Friday exists at all. All explanations have seemed very ambiguous to me. Please provide clarity so the speculations will cease and harmony can be restored and we can move forward to restore the reputation of CCSF.”

The Bay Guardian also sought clarity on this situation, but we have not yet received a response from CCSF administrators. Last we heard, communications director Peter Anning had forwarded our questions to Chancellor Tyler and Special Trustee Agrella and they were planning to respond.

Faculty members and students are scheduled to meet with Chancellor Tyler tomorrow, Wed/29, to discuss recent class cancellations. “This is not the time to close the door to students eager and willing to enroll at City College,” organizers with AFT 2121 wrote in an email newsletter to CCSF faculty. “Displacing students undermines their confidence in our college and interrupts their educational progress.”

In related news, Assembly Member Tom Ammiano introduced legislation Mon/27 seeking to “end undemocratic power grabs,” specifically the sort that stripped CCSF’s Board of Trustees of its voting powers.

Under the new system, Agrella, in his capacity as special trustee, can unilaterally make decisions that previously required the approval of the entire board. Approving the salary range modification on last week’s action agenda is one such example of what the special trustee may approve independently.

“Under a vague section of California code, the 17-seat Community Colleges Board of Governors has taken over faltering community colleges and effectively deposed the elected trustees of those colleges,” Ammiano’s office wrote in a statement announcing the proposed legislation. “They appoint a special trustee to make decisions in place of the elected board.”

Ammiano’s bill seeks to eliminate arbitrary actions that can lead to the disempowerment of an elected board, by clarifying and restricting conditions under which the state’s Board of Governors may take control.

“Aside from being undemocratic, I think it’s pretty criminal,” Ammiano told the Bay Guardian in a phone interview. “People can vote people out, people can recall people, and acknowledge that they’ve made mistakes. But it’s very upsetting to think that some appointed board can capriciously remove duly elected people.”