City College of San Francisco board members are set to discuss proposed raises for administrators Thursday. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Proposed pay raises for City College administrators anger students, faculty

Large increases come as college cuts classes, trims budget

City College of San Francisco board members are set to discuss proposed raises for administrators Thursday that have set off a growing outrage among students and faculty some are referring to as “salarygate.”

Last week, students and faculty at the college’s Ocean Campus protested plans to grant large pay hikes to some top administrators, including 100 and 90 percent salary increases for a vice chancellor and a dean at the college, respectively. The raises are being discussed as the college trimmed down its class offerings substantially over the past year to close a $32 million budget deficit.

“We were shocked at the increases,” said Jennifer Worley, President of City College’s faculty union, AFT 2121. “We were particularly shocked because we saw last spring… the administration decreasing the spring class offerings in the name of the budget. We saw further cancellation this summer of over 100 classes, also in the name of budget, as well as layoffs of a number of academic counselors that made it hard for students to get counseling they need.”

The raises have also prompted at least one City College board member, Ivy Lee, to call for an “independent analysis” of the proposed salary increases as well as the current administrative payscale.

Lee said that she will not support the pay raises, which must still be approved by the board later this month, without the audit.

“I don’t support [the raises]. And I think that the process was deeply flawed in how they arrived at it. I don’t trust any of the numbers at this point that I’m getting or seeing from any group, including the administration,” said Lee.

”Especially in this situation where you have administrators who are directly benefiting from the decision presenting us with the numbers to justify the decision,” she added. ”There is a conflict of interest there that you can’t overcome.”

The recommended pay hikes include a nearly $100,000 increase for a dean starting out at the college, bringing their salaries up from $108,974 in the 2018-19 fiscal year to $208,000 in 2019-20.

Among other proposed increases is a 101 percent pay hike for a beginning vice chancellor, who in 2018-19 earned $124,357 and could soon be earning an additional $125,642 annually, for a total of $250,000.

Funding for raises for all college employees amounts to some $5.7 million of the college’s 2019-20 budget, of which the executive’s raises make up 10 percent. The executive pay hikes must be approved by the full board, which is scheduled to meet on September 26.

The college’s administration has defended the raises with two separate press statements, issued last Wednesday and on Monday.

In its first statement, the administration argued that a current employee has filed a State of California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) claim to sue the district for equal pay violations, and that with the raises, the college is correcting possible violations.

“What is the essence of the equal pay/equal work violations that the Board’s action has now corrected? The salient data is that the top 100 most highly paid employees in the district all earned $135,000 or more in 2018. Of these 100 highly paid employees, 70 percent are faculty and staff (50 percent and 20 percent, respectively). Only 30 of our current 57 administrators make more than $135,000 per year,” the administration said in its statement.

The administration argued that some faculty members who do not have a college degree earn more than a female dean at the college, and that administrators regularly work overtime but unlike faculty, are eligible for compensation for extra hours worked. While the 2019-20 budget included salary increases for all employee groups, the total budget for administrators has been reduced $2 million from the previous year, the administration said in its statement.

On Monday, however, Chancellor Mark Rocha issued a second statement in which he took responsibility for a lack of transparency in regard to the proposal.

Rocha acknowledged that he failed to make clear that the board’s approval of the budget did not automatically sanction changes to executive pay scales, which must undergo a public process and vote at the board.

“The fact of the matter is that the administrator salaries have NOT yet been approved,” said Rocha in the statement. “I should have made this process clear from the outset. Doing so may have caused those who opposed the Board’s approval of the salary schedule to wait for the completion of the entire process.”

Regardless, Rocha justified the recommended raises, including for executives, as “essential for retention and recruitment of the best people, especially in a city with the highest cost of living in the United States.”

Rocha said that he will be presenting his recommendations for the revised pay scale to the board on Thursday, and offered a spreadsheet of the “actual salaries for the top 100 highly paid employees at CCSF,” which he said contradicts figures calculated by faculty union leaders.

According to that spreadsheet, the raises are indeed lower — a senior vice chancellor earning $230,354 would have his salary bumped to $275,000 this year. The spreadsheet also appears to show Rocha taking a pay cut, from earning $361,352 in the 2018-19 fiscal year to a proposed $333,805 in 2019-2020.

However Worley said Rocha’s figures are not accurate, because they compare what administrators, including Rocha, made in gross salaries in the prior year — including extra pay and allowances, such as for transportation — to the proposed base salary in the 2019-2020 fiscal year only.

“It’s comparing apples to oranges,” said Worley, who added that Rocha’s spreadsheet also reflects what administrators were paid in the calendar year, which only reflects half a year’s worth of raises. According to Worley, administrators are paid per fiscal year, which runs from July 1 to June 30.

Last week, Lee called for a public discussion on the proposal at the college’s Budget and Audit Committee on Thursday morning.

“The raises were never discussed in public session or went through a shared governance process,” said Lee, adding that the raises appeared as a budget line item when the board approved the college’s 2019-2020 budget on August 22.

“The trustees took no action to approve of any change in administrative pay scale. We still needed to approve it and discuss it publicly,” she said.

Worley said that she would welcome an independent audit as proposed by Lee.

“Someone would be looking at these raises who doesn’t stand to get one. Right now, our board is dependent on our administration to get the numbers,” she said. “That weighs the information in favor of the administration — we think that we are probably seeing the effects of that with these raises. I think it’s a good idea to have a more objective view of the budget.”

lwaxmann@sfexaminer.com

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