SCC Budget Crisis Shakes Administration

KEY FIGURES REVEAL MONETARY REALITY

SCC’s finances are a cause of growing concern amongst faculty, staff and the student body, with the administration exploring solutions such as raising tuition and keeping job vacancies open as an answer to the $3 million budget shortfall the campus is facing.

PUB’s main dining room held the second budget meeting. Photo: Juan Páez

The administration held another open meeting to address concerns of what is perceived some of the faculty and staff as a lack of transparency and competency. The budget was also discussed in a board of trustees meeting the following day.

The Board of Trustees Meeting

“We don’t agree with some of their numbers, and we’re planning on challenging them,” said professor DuValle Daniel, Shoreline Community College Federation of Teachers President.

According to an email sent to faculty and staff by SCC President Cheryl Roberts, the previously reported number of $14.7 million in board of trustees reserve funds was incorrect.

The real number, according to Interim Chief Financial Officer Bill Saraceno (who assumed this responsibility on March 18), is $10,237,369. He also said that this didn’t affect the cash balance, so no money was actually missing. Saraceno admitted to not being able to figure out where the previous figure of $14.7 million came from.

According to Saraceno, SCC has not submitted financial statements since fiscal year 2012-2013. Saraceno said that SCC has hired accounting firm CliftonLarsonAllen to help submit the missing financial statements from fiscal years 2015-2018.

Daniel said that this  showed “gross incompetence, negligence, lack of oversight, and lack of due diligence” on behalf of the board and the administration. She also expressed surprise that the board of trustees didn’t ask any questions about the incorrect amount of board reserve funds that was reported in the March 8 meeting.

“We presented you with our concerns, but this board praised former CFO Stuart Trippel and promoted Veronica (Zura) to Executive Director, even though we identified them both in the ULP (Unfair Labor Practice action) we submitted as participating in the misapplication of the funds,” Daniel said.

“That sent us a message,” she said. “Because of your action and inactions as a board, our college is facing what may be a financial crisis.”

During both meetings, Roberts offered apologies to students, the board, faculty and staff regarding SCC’s financial situation. Roberts, teary-eyed, said that she had disappointed herself and others: “I’ve learned that I need to not only trust,” she said, “but trust and verify, because I care about this college very much.”

Possible Solutions

As for a way out of SCC’s financial situation, Roberts said that the administration is looking to continue to assess revenue, look at ways to increase enrollment and increase student retention rates.

Bayta Maring, acting vice president for student learning, said that the administration analyzing academic departments to ensure the fees they charge “are in line with other local colleges.”

Roberts also pointed to current job vacancies in SCC that will be kept open in order to save money, which the administration calculates will save SCC about $800,000.

Furthermore, she also said that state legislation is “recommending that tuition go up by 2.3 percent.” Roberts added that this raise in tuition would be used to backfill compensation for faculty.

Student Involvement

Much like in the March 8 meeting, student presence in the open meeting was minimal. The administration has made an effort to be more accessible and transparent in order to address the concerns of the faculty and staff, but the student body, thus far, remains largely disconnected from the meetings and SCC’s financial situation. “It’s hard sometimes to get students involved in this level of conversation,” Daniel said. “At least until they begin seeing changes around them like cancelled classes or raising tuition.”

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