Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Students discuss their work in class at the MESA center at American River College on April 25, 2024. (Photo: Cristian Gonzalez/CalMatters)
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    District admonished over multiple budget oversights

    The Peralta district administration is wrangling with massive, years-old discrepancies in the district’s spending deficit, financial reserve, and student debts to the district.

    In their Dec. 5 resolution, the District Academic Senate admonished the District Financial Services, Peralta Chancellor Jowel Laguerre, and the Peralta Board of Trustees for the discrepancies.

    The board announced at their Nov. 14 meeting that the district’s financial reserves, originally thought to be at $20.4 million were actually at $7.8 million. The district’s spending deficit has also reached $7 million, 467% larger than was estimated in the September 2017 District Financial Services budget.

    The resolution expressed “disappointment” in the board of trustees’ “failure to exercise effective fiduciary oversight” and criticized the board for their “lack of effective oversight.”

    At a Nov. 28 board retreat, Acting Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Christine Williams discussed the budget errors with trustees and instructors.

    Several were concerned that jobs could be cut to make up for the deficit.

    “No one’s losing their job,” Williams said. But the district will have to patch the leak in the budget somehow, and one option Williams mentioned is to make cuts to the $7.1 million set aside by the district for “vacant positions:” faculty jobs that were included in the budget but never filled.

    “Some are from those who retired and some are from positions that have been vacant for a while,” Williams said. “Some are from positions that may have been approved.”

    Peralta Federation of Teachers President Jennifer Shanoski said other options include a hiring freeze, a halt to district-wide spending, and a newly revised budget. But the district needs a solution before the 2018 spring semester begins, Shanoski said, which raises an issue with who will be part of the deciding process.

    “If decisions are made between now and the start of next semester, there won’t be any shared governance on the issue,” she said, adding that the absence of student-and particularly faculty-voices in the process was problematic. Regardless of how the district makes up the lost funds, Shanoski said the PFT would fight to prevent pay slashes.

    “The PFT wants cuts to be as far from the classroom as possible,” Shanoski said.

    Williams said the district may also partner with a collections agency to retrieve unpaid student tuition, the amount of which grew from $3.3 million in 2009 to nearly $8.8 million in 2016. But District Academic Senate President Cleavon Smith said Peralta’s administration shares the blame.

    “The bulk of overspending has come from the district office,” he said.

    Smith added that Peralta’s budget is always a “phony document” that lacks proper review of actual district spending from the previous year. He said that suggesting cuts to salaries or vacant positions was premature.

    “It’s way too early to tell when or if cuts will be made,” Smith said.

    Brian Howey

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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