The Renegade Rip

Classified buyouts

Rachel Cribbs

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Fear of layoffs has caused morale among Bakersfield College classified staff to plummet, say several classified employees.

While classified staffers may face layoffs, teachers and administrators are enjoying recently approved raises.

“We are in crisis mode,” said Debi Brockman, classified senate staff president. “This is lousy timing by the district. We are already understaffed and the morale is at an all time low. We’re all wondering why these changes weren’t made earlier.”

Mike Buchak, longtime graphic designer agrees,

“We’ve been put in an unfair position,” he said. “I have never seen the morale lower at BC.”

Due to the state 50 percent law that requires community colleges spend 50 percent of their budget on teaching faculty, the district is having to make immediate changes in its staff.

To be in accordance with the law, the KCCD offered an incentive plan to have classified and administrative staffs voluntarily leave their positions.

The incentive plan offers staff members 35 percent of their annual salaries if they chose to leave by Sept. 3.

According to Dr. Walter Packard, Chancellor of the KCCD, the incentive package is not targeting only the classified staff, because administrative staffs are included.

“We have to focus on the lower half of the (50 percent) equation,” he said. “We are offering the incentive package to everyone on that lower half.”

As of Sept 6, the KCCD had 43 staff members taking the incentive package, including Buchak.

While classified staffs are worried about their job futures, earlier this summer the district approved two raises for teachers and a 15 percent raise in salary for administrators over two years.

Packard said this helps the 50 percent law because now every hired person in the KCCD is paid “competitively,” he said.

“Every teacher received two checks for about three and a half percent of our regular salary over the summer,” said Steve Eso, faculty union president. “They were last minute checks from the district to bring us up to the 50 percent law.”

According to Packard, teachers, administrators and classified received raises this summer, beginning with the teachers.

“Administrators are supposed to be setting the example for the district,” said Brockman. “I don’t see how ethically plausible a 15 percent raise for the administration is right now.”

Eso explained that raises for administrators can work against the 50 percent law.

“We are trying to lower the cost of classified and administrators, so we’re trying to get them to leave with the package,”

But, according to Buchak, if classified staffers do not take the incentive package, they might get laid off and leave with nothing.

“Two years ago my position was on the list, now we don’t even know if there is a list,” he said. “We don’t have all the information and how can they expect us to make a decision this fast? All the classified are really afraid they’re going to get fired.”

However, Packard remains confident the district will not have to resort to layoffs because of the incentive package,

“I understand why the classified feels that way, but as chancellor I need to get us in compliance with the law,” he said. “We are going to see if the incentive plan will work. I want them to make this a voluntary decision.”

“After Sept. 5 if the district still needs to cut positions we are going to negotiate with the district,” said Del Allen, classified union president. “Some might have to apply for forced retirement. We’re going to have to negotiate our retirements. We are not going to be as cooperative and friendly after Sept. 5. Mistakes were made by the district and classified should not have to pay for them.”

The problems at the district are making the classified staff more wary of the future,

“We are not really part of the family at BC,” said Allen. “If we don’t see a major change we are not going to be in better shape. It will take years to get the feelings back. We are always the victims, it seems like we’re always waiting for the shoe to drop. This is very frustrating because it isn’t our fault.”

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Classified buyouts