GB News: From the Southwestern Community College District Governing Board

President's Message

Governing Board President Norma L. HernandezFebruary offered a rare pleasure for your Governing Board: The opportunity to introduce our new Superintendent/President to the community. Since her official start on January 2, Dr. Melinda Nish has made it a priority to get to know the culture of our college and the constituencies we serve.

Representatives from the educational, business, student and local communities joined us to greet Dr. Nish at a February 16 reception cosponsored by the Southwestern College Foundation and held in the Associated Student Organization's Student Center.

That spirit of welcome extends well beyond campus: Dr. Nish also has been warmly received by the National City Chamber of Commerce and an informal association of more than 100 female leaders from across San Diego County.

Budget Pressures Increase

Dollar signSouthwestern College continues to balance the needs of our students against the tightening restrictions of California's budget.

In September, the Governing Board approved a $90.2 million operating budget in which revenues were $5 million short of planned spending. The plan at the time was to balance the budget by drawing $3 million from reserves and saving $2 million during the year by trimming spending wherever possible.

In February, Interim Vice President for Business & Financial Affairs C.M. Brahmbhatt told the board that cutbacks at the state level would cost the college an additional $2.4 million in revenues, meaning the College District will likely have to draw more than $5 million from reserves despite staff efforts to economize.

Those shortfalls are expected to continue through the 2012-13 fiscal year, Brahmbhatt said. And even deeper cuts are likely if California voters reject a ballot measure Gov. Jerry Brown has proposed for the November ballot. A staff committee is reviewing ideas for the College District to bring in more revenue.

Workshop Explores Board Roles and Contract Procurement

Board members explored and clarified their roles and expectations for themselves and the Superintendent/President in a workshop led by Scott Lay, president and chief executive officer of the Community College League of California.

"Your job is not to fix things," Lay told the board. "It is to help create a culture in which things are fixed."

The board also reviewed California law and district procedures governing how goods are purchased, bids are awarded and contracts are let.

Campaign Reform Proposed

Governing Board members continue to discuss how best to regulate the influence of money in College District election campaigns.

It has been proposed that the district limit donations from any individual to a candidate or his or her campaign committee to no more than $1,000 during an election cycle. The proposal also would prohibit contributions from organizations. The proposal will come back to the board for further discussion and possible approval.

Mission Statement Trimmed

The Governing Board approved a shorter version of the Southwestern College Mission statement for use on documents where the full statement might not be suitable:

Southwestern Community College District promotes student learning and success by committing to continuous improvement that includes planning, implementation, assessment, and evaluation.  We serve a diverse community of students by providing a wide range of dynamic and high quality educational programs and comprehensive student services.

Employee Update

Among the Governing Board's actions:

  • Approved sabbatical leaves for 22 faculty members during the 2012-13 academic year.
  • Appointed EOPS Director Aaron Starck to also serve as Acting Director of Student Development and Health Services.
  • Approved the hiring of Russell B. Abee as Project Associate Director-SBDC network.
  • Accepted the retirement of Diosdado Banayad, custodian, and the resignation of Thomas Beasley, Director of Payroll & Risk Management.

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