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

Peralta Board of Trustees Brief: Board elections, public comment, facilities updates, and budget cuts

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(Graphic by Li Khan/The Citizen)

The Peralta Community College District (PCCD)’s governing board held its final regular meeting of the year on Dec. 12. The four hour meeting covered detailed updates to facilities projects and budget cuts, as well as the swearing in of a new student trustee and the election of a new board president.

Naomi Vazquez sworn in as student trustee

Early into the meeting, the PCCD board swore in a new student trustee, Naomi Vazquez. Vazquez is one of two student trustees that serve in advisory positions on the board.

“I am excited and looking forward to working with Student Trustee Natasha Masand in representing and advocating for all students,” Vasquez said.

Paulina Gonzalez-Brito voted new Board President

Next, the meeting proceeded with elections for Board President and Board Vice President. The presidential election nominees consisted of trustees Paulina Gonzalez-Brito and Sheweet Yohannes. 

After a failed vote to elect Yohannes, the board elected Gonzalez-Brito in a 4-3 split. 

The Board Vice President election had only one candidate, the incumbent Louis Quindlen, who was reelected unanimously.

Classified staff union asks for better support for hourly employees

During the public comment section of the board meeting, there was a large presence of members of the Service Employees International Union, Local 1021 (SEIU), which represents classified staff at Peralta. Multiple people in the attendance of the board meeting arrived early to the meeting in purple t-shirts with signs to support SEIU. 

Of the nine speakers, all of them spoke in support for increased payment and benefits for part-time or hourly PCCD employees as compared to full-time staffed PCCD employees. 

Haley Hoach, an instructional assistant, reflects on her time as an hourly employee (Source: PCCD Youtube)

Haley Hoach, an instructional assistant in the Laney Math Department, spoke candidly about her previous experience working as an hourly employee before becoming a permanent, salaried worker. According to Hoech, while working hourly, she made 80% of what her salaried peers made while not receiving vacation and retirement, a pay difference she calculated to be roughly $17,000 over 4.5 months. She was also given only one hour of sick pay per month.

Hoech would like to see those that are on hourly pay have pay compensation parity with salaried employees. 

 “By our estimates, [it] would only cost the district about $100,000, about 0.1% of the district’s budget. This doesn’t feel like a matter of, oh there’s not the money for that. It feels like a matter of the district’s priorities.” Hoech said. 

SEIU 1021 Field Representative Mo Kashmiri also spoke in support of parity between permanent and hourly classified employees. 

Kashmiri also had some words for the interpreters and instructional aids on campus. He stated that some of them have worked with Peralta for decades, with limited job security, payment, and benefits as compared to permanent employees Because of their status as temporary employees, the interpreters often have to work at other institutions which limits their availability at Peralta. 

“We have to fill in with a contractor that pays almost three times the hourly rate for an interpreter to fill,” Kashmiri said. “We’re hoping to make some of the Peralta interpreters and instructional assistants made permanent so that we can save money and provide better services.”

Newly elected Board President Gonzalez-Brito told The Citizen that they could not respond directly to the comments, citing ongoing negotiations with SEIU.  

Still, they added, “The board values all Peralta employees and their dedication to the students and the district, and we take their concerns very seriously and will take them into consideration.”

Discussion of facilities assessments

Interim Vice Chancellor of General Services Atheria Smith, presented the status various facilities projects, including facilities assessments completed by construction consulting firm High Performance Learning Environments and ISES Corporation, which specializes in facilities condition assessments. 

Smith updated the board on the progress of the short-term facilities and maintenance projects at the Peralta campuses. 178 tasks are still ongoing. 

(Source: PCCD Youtube channel)

$1.5 million for HPLE

The board voted unanimously to approve a new $750k contract for HPLE, and ratify another $750k amendment of its existing contract, dated Sep. 29. 

Prior to the vote, some trustees expressed dissatisfaction with the commencement of the contractor’s work before board approval of the extension. Trustee Nicky Gonález Yuen said that he would be ratifying HPLE’s work, despite his discomfort with the decision, stating that he has “no choice.”

Quindlen also expressed concerns about vendors working without a contract.

“I know at campus we’ve shut down several operations where people had started working without a contract. I think it’s a bad look when it’s okay for the district office to do it, but not for the colleges where they’re directly serving students,” Quindlen said.

Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson responded to Quindlen to clarify that the decision to extend the contract came from a need to prioritize projects relating to health and safety. 

“I gave the go ahead because the board has already told us to move forward with this and we need to get this done. If we had waited 90 days to come and bring you a contract by going through the process, you would have people standing up screaming,” Jackson said.

$6.2 million in budget cuts

Nathaniel Jones III, Interim Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration, held a presentation to go over revisions to the budget for the 2023-2024 fiscal year.

The district had originally budgeted for 2% Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) raises for all Peralta employees. But due to a forgotten clause in one bargaining unit’s agreement which included an 85% COLA, combined with “me-too” clauses in other bargaining units’ contracts, all employees were given the same 7% COLA increase, 85% of the state’s 8% COLA funding for COLA

“We did not know when we did the tentative budget that the bargaining unit agreement included an 85% [COLA]. We knew that after we did the tentative budget, not before,” Jackson said.

As such, the district had to determine cuts in order to maintain a balanced budget from a deficit of approximately $6.2 million. 

Jones said, “Given the fact that the deficit was largely the product of personnel, we thought that it made sense to allocate the deficit by personnel.”

Jones stated that the majority of the deficit was recovered via reductions in ongoing resources, the freezing of open positions, and the reduction of one-time resources.

After some discussion, the board ultimately voted unanimously to approve the updated budget. 

Changes to the SLBE program

New changes were approved for the Peralta Small Local Business Enterprise (SLBE) program. The program allows the district to slightly favor small local businesses when awarding contracts, with a 3-5% bidding preference.  

The maximum revenue thresholds for SLBE eligible businesses will see some increases. Construction-related SLBEs will now be considered if they make $11.5 or less revenue, an increase of $3 million from before. Architecture, engineering, and professional services related SLBE’s will be considered with $5 million or less revenue, an increase of $2 million. 

New policies would also require vendors’ SLBE status to be independently verified, rather than self-certified through an affidavit.

Other enhancements to the program include increased efforts to collaborate with and assist small local businesses with staying competitive on contracts.

Jackson to retire as chancellor

In light of Jackson’s retirement and departure from her role as chancellor, the board concluded with an honorary proclamation congratulating Jackson for her tenure as chancellor and noting her accolades and achievements during her career. Jackson will be succeeded by Tammeil Gilkerson in January.  

Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson bows her head in thanks to the board’s applause. (Source: PCCD Youtube)

The next regularly scheduled board meeting will be held on Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. and can be viewed live on PCCD’s YouTube channel.

About the Contributor
Satch Alvarez, Staff Writer
Satch is entering his second semester at Laney College. Originally from the LA area, he moved with his parents to the Midwest and stayed there until receiving his engineering degree from Ohio State. After some years of working in engineering and sales, he has moved to the East Bay to spend time with family and develop himself. Now, he is excited to be a member of the Citizen to explore the field of journalism. In his leisure time, Satch likes to run, explore neighborhoods,  and cook some new stuff.
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