Month: May 2012


Nava beat Zarate at the polls on election day but ultimately lost by 191 votes in early voting.

The race was clean, positive, and is a win in several ways. More people are watching and talking about the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees. This includes several elected representatives who supported Nava and talked to us at the polls today. In fact, its safe to say SAC AAUP has made a *lot* of new friends via this campaign. We’ve increased our membership and gotten our name out there.

We need to keep it out there.

We will not sit down nor will we shut up. SAC AAUP will continue our work in putting “community” back into our community colleges. We will meet with Board members, representatives, city council members, and the local dogcatcher.

We will continue to listen to one another, support one another and keep everyone informed on the issues. We will continue to grow in size and influence.


Thank yous

SAC AAUP would like to thank incoming Board member Yvonne Katz and outgoing Board member Blakely Fernandez for meeting with us this past week. Open dialogue and communication between Board members and faculty is a key component in putting “community” back into our community colleges.

Thank you!

Tuition increase passes 6-2




To:                  Alamo Colleges Family


From:             Leo Zuniga, Associate Vice Chancellor of Communications


Date:              May 5, 2012


Subject:        Retreat/Special Board Meeting Report


On behalf of Dr. Leslie, the following is a summary of proceedings at the Alamo Colleges Retreat/Special Board meeting of the Board of Trustees on May 5, 2012.

Vice Chancellor of Finance and Administration Diane Snyder made the following presentations

Presentation on FY12 Financial Results

Presentation on FY13 Financial Overview and Operating Budget Forecast

Presentation on Status of FY11/FY12 Budget Strategic Initiatives (25 Strategies)

Presentation on Preliminary FY13 Budget Strategic Initiatives 

Presentation highlights included:

     – Project $2.4 million higher in maintenance and operations tax revenue
     – Spring 2012 contact hours were 1 million below forecast, thus a projection of $3 million in reduced state revenue
     – Identified $3.8 million of FY13 strategies to self-fund faculty and staff salary increases
     – Recommended investments of $3 million in preventive maintenance, $2 million in student success strategy fund, and $3 million in capital investment for            emergency preparedness
     – Fall enrollment trends: 2008 – 54,081; 2009 – 60,265; 2010 – 63,341; 2011 – 63,641
     – 2012 Spring enrollment – 58,356
     – Fiscal Year 2012 of 63,641 enrollment of which 10,507 were tuition exempt
     – Over the past 11 years, total state funding with benefits increased 1% while enrollment increased by 51%

Trustee Discussion Regarding Presentation of Preliminary FY13 Operating Budget Forecast and Budget Strategic Initiatives


Tuition Schedule for Fiscal Year 2012-2013 Reflecting a Three Percent General Tuition Increase

On a 6-2 vote, the Board approved a 3% increase in tuition to support enrollment growth in 2012-2013.

Preparing the Proposed Operating Budget for FY13 with a 2% Salary Increase

This item was deferred for consideration at a later date.


Preparing the Proposed Operating Budget for FY13 

This item was deferred for consideration at a later date.




Board retreat today at NLC Library

There is a special Board meeting/retreat happening at NLC Library this morning. On the agenda is a report on the status of the 25 cost cutting initiatives, one of which included eliminating faculty status for librarians. Will Dr. Leslie or any other administrator provide information on how the libraries are faring without all the adjunct librarians and how the loss of those positions has affected student services and success at NLC? Or NVC? Probably not. Will Dr. Leslie share that the library faculty collaborated on a counter proposal that would have cut an additional $150,000 from the personnel budget by keeping faculty status and moving to a 50/50 ratio like other departments? Probably not.

Here’s the Board packet. Of particular interest is the tuition hike and a green sheet item re: a 2% salary increase for non-faculty employees. Will they vote to approve today?

Zarate’s travel part 2

Plaza de Armas wrote another article about Zarate’s travel expenses. Apparently he’s a real bargain! And the Bellwether Award is not exactly the Oscars. It was a self-nominated consolation prize after NVC didn’t win the Baldrige Award. Those 25 cost cutting strategies honored by the Bellwether included eliminating faculty status for librarians – one of our top advocacy issues which was an ideological decision, not a fiscal one. It was also made without consulting any library faculty, directors, or deans, or with any regard as to the potential academic impact on students. All five faculty senates passed resolutions opposing this move and even one Vice Chancellor remarked that “Librarians were not represented very well.” So much for collaboration!

Also of note is the fact that travel is restricted at the colleges. Not all faculty get to have their way paid if they’re invited or even presenting at a conference. So why should Trustees automatically get “unrestricted” oks to travel as Zarate suggests?

Zarate, bargain advocate

Roberto Zarate, well-traveled trustee of San Antonio’s Alamo Community Colleges, called us back after our story about his expenses ran earlier this week. His regular travel on behalf of the public open-enrollment district is automatically green-lighted by the board of trustees’ generous travel and reimbursement policy. But, said Zarate, he actually saves the district money, because he now performs functions that were once farmed out to lobbyists – an annual savings he calculates at approximately $15,000. Zarate, by contrast, spent somewhere north of $6,000 last year on trips to Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C., for national higher-ed policy groups such as the Association of Community College Trustees.

“So with the cutbacks, anyone could be an advocate,” he said. Fortunately, he added, he’s retired, which makes it easier for him to travel on district business. A perk – he has two sons and “beautiful grandbabies” in Austin.

Zarate also echoed the comments of Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie, saying the board is much more active in policy thanks to trustees’ involvement outside of the regular meeting schedule. Zarate, in particular, has represented the districts’ interests on appointed commissions in Austin.

Before Zarate joined the board in 2004, “One of the things the board was known for was non-participation,” he said. “In terms of going to the Legislature, trustees had never gone before.”

Zarate’s national mingling inspired him to co-found a state trustees’ organization in 2007, which, he acknowledged, has meant “more travel and more meetings.”

He says the board is very conscious of expenses at a time when staff and teaching salaries and cuts in education funding are hot topics. And he no longer collects reimbursement from the district for local travel. Nonetheless, he wouldn’t change the current policy, which allows any and all trustees to travel to any or all of nine annual meetings and events.

“If a trustee can go, they can go,” he said. “We don’t want to restrict anybody.”

That philosophy led to the board’s well-attended trip to Florida in January, where it won an award in the category of Planning, Governance & Finance. Tab for the board: close to $10,000.

“It was kind of like winning the Oscars,” Zarate said. And the conference website got it wrong, he added. when it listed only three team members – Leslie, a vice chancellor, and board member Gareth Beitzel – for the presentation. “The reason so many trustees went is we were all asked to be part of the presentation.”