By Emily Rodriguez
A delay in available funds led to a shortage of tutors at the beginning of this semester, President Robert Zeigler said during an open forum Wednesday in Loftin Student Center.
Zeigler and the college Executive team answered questions from the crowd and email. Students and employees asked for ways disability access will be improved, reasons behind a shortage of tutors and lab hours and the lack of a cost-of-living raise for employees.
The BioSpot, the writing center, math lab and the fourth floor of Moody have reduced services because of a lack of staff. “We were in the process in getting tutors hired so they would be ready for the beginning of the semester,” he said. “It’s not that we didn’t have funding, but the funding coming to us was slower as it has been to come to pass.”
He referred to district releasing funds in the 2013-14 budget. Zeigler said budget constraints affect the number of tutors and how long labs can stay open.
The crowd applauded a question of why faculty and staff have not received a pay raise while administrators get a raise every year.
“The basic premise of the question is wrong,” Zeigler said. “Raises, when there is a raise, are for faculty, staff and administrators. Everyone gets the same raise; we don’t get more. If it is a percentage raise, faculty are on a different pay scale. I have never gotten a raise when other people haven’t.”
His response garnered groans and eye rolls from the crowd of about 40.
Another questioned how the district can afford leadership training, but not a raise. Zeigler said he wants a cost-of-living raise, but decreases in state funding has prevented it. He said tuition has gone up to make up the deficit, but to keep classes affordable, tuition has to stay low.
“I don’t know that it has been several years that staff have seen a raise, but I’m sympathetic to the concern,” he said. “Something you need to remember about pay raises is that it is not a one-time cost. The cost for training is usually a one-time cost.”
Questions were raised about the functionality of the ACES information portal and Canvas learning management system that have prevented students from accessing course materials or online classes.
“It is a new system and we are experiencing some growing pains with it,” Dr. Robert Vela, vice president for student and academic success, said. “Once we get through the first round of this, we are expecting that every course throughout the college will have a much easier way to access the work whether (students) are here or away.”
On another topic, Zeigler said parking decals are no longer being mailed. Ticketing began Oct. 2 and those who were waiting on the permit had their parking tickets waived.
Students who have not received a permit can pick it up in the business office; faculty must go to the police office at this college.
In another area, long processing times in veterans affairs was a concern Zeigler addressed. Paperwork for benefits is backed up to July, so benefits may wait until December.
Vela attributed the delay to the doubling of veterans here and the Oct. 1 government shutdown. The VA office is seeking an additional employee and has applied for a grant to hire a full-time counselor. Overtime pay is available with Veterans Affairs certification.
On another topic, administrators in construction meetings have been identifying ways to make campus more accessible, Zeigler said.
The district is taking bids for a canopy over a ramp at the southwest corner of Moody Learning Center.
Adding canopies to connect all buildings has been discussed. “You could go from building to building as opposed to the interior of the college,” Vela said. “There’s a study being done to see what that would look like and how much that would cost.”
Other concerns are uneven and raised sidewalks, which impede mobility. Zeigler said drought has caused shifting in the ground. Problem areas should be reported to David Mrizek, vice president of college services.