City College of San Francisco is hoping to encourage more staff and faculty to retire to help close an expected $31 million deficit. (Emma Marie Chiang/Special to the S.F. Examiner)

Faced with growing deficit, City College expanding retirement incentives for staff and faculty

In a move to tackle its ballooning deficit, City College has extended a popular incentive program to encourage more staff to retire.

At last week’s board meeting, college officials announced the projected budget deficit for the current fiscal year has nearly tripled to $31 million. They blamed the increase on under enrollment and a lack of participation in the Free City program as well as problems with the course registration program.

SEE RELATED: Software malfunction prevents many CCSF students from registering for classes

In response, a retirement incentive package, which is already expected to save the college $7.7 million, was offered again starting March 5 for ten days to encourage more staff members to retire.

City College is already set to retire more than four times the average number of employees this year across all three categories of administration, faculty and classified staff, with a total of 171 employees retiring through the program. For the last three fiscal years, by comparison, annual retirements averaged around 40, according to college records.

However, in the face of the looming deficit, which was first reported Saturday by 48 Hills, college administrators say this is still not enough.

“All hands are on deck and all solutions are on the table,” said CCSF spokesperson Connie Chan. “We need to push a little bit harder on our retirement incentive, to do whatever we can. We are exploring all solutions.”

The school faces an uncertain financial landscape as a new funding formula enacted by former Gov. Jerry Brown is phased in over the next two years. The formula shifts the criteria for funding from the number of full-time students to the number that complete a certificate or a degree or transfer to a 4-year institution.

This change will make it more difficult for smaller programs that focus on fulfilling the college’s third tenet of “lifelong learning” to justify their existence.

The retirement incentive program was introduced for review in November of 2018 and given it’s final vote of approval at last week’s board meeting. It offers eligible employees 65 percent of their salary or earnings, according to a staff report.

The incentive program is one piece of a larger response to address what Chancellor Mark Rocha refers to as a “20-year structural problem.”

Rocha also announced in December that the college will be permanently cancelling as much as a third of its class offerings over the next seven years, targeting courses that have been “historically under-enrolled.”

SEE RELATED: City College to drop one third of class offerings over 7 years

The teacher’s union, which has publicly stated its opposition to any forms of class reduction, is concerned that the retirement incentive program is another avenue for the administration to shrink class offerings even further.

“We don’t advocate ‘Yes you should take it, or no you shouldn’t take it,’ but we do have concerns about it in the context of our current chancellor seeking to reduce the classes at City College and using this as a way to push faculty out,” said Jenny Worley, president of AFT 2121.

Despite financial uncertainty, the budget approved by the board last year also included a significant pay increase for faculty following the ratification in May of a newly negotiated bargaining agreement with the American Federation of Teachers 2121.

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