LANCASTER — A proposed reorganization of Antelope Valley Community College District’s administrative structure continued to draw criticism and concern from students, employees and community members.
The departure of former Business Services Director Diana Keelen this spring set the reorganization in motion. Keelen’s position will not be filled. That set off a round of shifts with employees getting new titles and at least one other position remaining vacant.
Board policy and administrative procedure delegates reorganizational authority to AV College President Ed Knudson. The reorganization does not require Board approval. Interim General Counsel Bridget Cook did a presentation on the reorganization at Monday’s meeting for the audience watching via the college’s YouTube channel.
“Right now the president is currently moving from Step 6 to Step 7 on a nine-step program,” Cook said. “Title 5 of the California Code of Regulations, 53021 C, 1 and 3, specify that the positions in a reorg do not constitute a vacancy when there is not a net increase in the number of employees for the district. Or, when an incumbent is upgraded, reclassified, or renamed without significantly altering the duties being performed by the individual.”
The proposed reorganization includes three interim positions and classification changes. At least one position, executive director of ITS, will be not be filled in addition to Keelen’s former position.
“The college will face budget issues in the future,” Cook said.
Cook added the district will be OK for the 2020-21 fiscal year thanks to a 12% budget reserve. Fiscal year 2021-22 is not so promising.
The reorganization is projected to save the district up to $450,000 in the first year, and $350,000 in subsequent years.
“We demand a college that welcomes and advocates for the education, advancement, enlightenment of all students, staff, faculty and community members,” a representative of the group Citizens for Equity Diversity and Applied Representation, or CEDAR, said during a call to the Board. “We demand a college leadership, faculty and staff that reflects and represents the rich diversity of the Antelope Valley College student body that is overwhelmingly black and brown.”
Board President Laura Herman read public comment letters prior to Cook’s presentation. Several of the letters contained similar wording, so Herman did not read all of those.
“I am concerned that the proposed administrative reorganization may overlook the importance of equity policies for employment at a public institution,” faculty member Heidi Williams wrote.
Williams added her comments were not meant to reflect negatively or personally against the employees chosen for promotion. However, she added other employees might have wanted to apply.
“We do not support this reorganization and would like to see policies that reflect equity and fairness,” Williams wrote.
Classified employee Desiree Lee also said that she does not support the reorganization because the correct processes are not being followed and it does not provide equity for classified positions.
“The decision sets negative precedence that the current administration does not care about equity and diversity within the reorganization,” Lee wrote.
Other letter writers questioned the validity of the projected cost savings to the AV Community College District.
AV College Federation of Classified Employees President Pamela Ford criticized Knudson in a lengthy letter to the board.
“It appears the president’s penchant for deliberately ignoring processes, have become a tool for him to elevate those he deems worthy, thereby, bypassing portions of the reorganization, ignoring hiring practices, and collective bargaining,” Ford wrote.
Ford added: “I hope no member of the Board is assuming anyone, including people of color, want to be handed promotions, without going through the process. That would be a wrong assumption and clearly demonstrates you have lost sight of the importance of policies and procedures, and the significance to the accreditation of this institution, and are lacking true knowledge of equality and diversity.”
Academic Senate Coordinator Nancy Masters expressed her support for AV College leadership in a letter to the board.
“I recognize and respect the President’s authority as it relates to reorganization, and I stand in support of our current leadership, the Board and President,” Masters wrote.
Masters added that more than 50% of AV College classified employees to do not belong to the union
“I was not asked for my opinion. As a nonunion employee, I appreciate your discernment in recognizing the loudest voice doesn’t necessarily represent the majority,” Masters wrote.
After Herman finished reading the letters related to the proposed reorganization, she announced the implementation of whatever it ends up being willed not take place until mid-August.
“Some of those concerns will be addressed,” Herman said.