Proposal could trade Memorial Day for spring break for staff

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Item is on agenda for tonight’s board of trtustees meeting.

By Katherine Garcia

The Audit, Budget and finance Committee of the board of trustees discussed but made no recommendation Tuesday on giving staff the entire spring break off in trade for all staff, faculty and students working on Memorial Day.

The committee considered a proposal from Chancellor Bruce Leslie that was a result of the United Staff Council pushing for extending spring break for staff by three days.

Currently, staff gets only the Thursday and Friday of spring break off. Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Houston, Lone Star and Tarrant County community college districts give their staff off the entire week of spring break.

The council has been trying to give staff the entire week off of spring break since fall 2013.

Staff Council met in December to discuss a list of possible holidays they would trade for those days off at the request of the chancellor.

Staff Council asked staff across the district for a list of possible holidays they would sacrifice and the consensus was two holidays in April — Good Friday and the Battle of Flowers holiday during Fiesta San Antonio — and Memorial Day in May.

Trustees questioned the choices.

“But even Fiesta day … we’re saying that’s more important than Memorial Day?” said District 6 trustee Gene Sprague.

Leslie said the day wouldn’t impact the faculty because the spring semester ends before then, on May 17 this year.

Memorial Day weekend falls on May 24-26, so only Maymester classes would be affected.

District 7 trustee Yvonne Katz added that if Memorial Day was approved for the trade, then the colleges could organize a memorial service for fallen soldiers.

Adding holidays is a perk that would be appealing to prospective employees, Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said.

“Holidays here are a big benefit, and it is valued in people making choices to come here,” she said.

Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, pointed out that parents would have issues with finding child care if they had to work on Memorial Day while their children would be out of school.

Sprague said staff at universities get an average of 14 days off, while community colleges give 22 ½ days off.

“I was trying to balance the proposal of the staff,” Leslie said about the suggestion of working Memorial Day.

Sprague said the Alamo Colleges is overly generous with giving days off, adding that staff would be paid for another day off.

The committee declined to approve the minute order, which would be a recommendation to the full board.

“If you go ahead with this minute order, you’re starting an entitlement,” said District 4 trustee Marcelo Casillas in the event that the proposal is not passed.

District 1 trustee Joe Alderete likened going forward with the minute order and then disapproving the measure to “taking candy away from a baby once you’ve given the candy.”

“Most of the people that pay our taxes, including myself, only have eight days, holidays, a year,” said District 9 trustee James Rindfuss.

The chancellor said the measure could take effect for the 2014-15 school year if it is not further delayed.

The proposal was referred to the full board for consideration at Tuesday’s regular board meeting at 6 p.m. at Killen Center, 201 W. Sheridan.

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