A spike in the amount of money paid to faculty for duties performed outside the classroom got the attention of the Budget Resource and Allocation Committee, which may look into ways of reducing the millions of dollars spent on so-called “release time.”

Robert Miller, Senior VP/Assistant Superintendent, speaks at the Budget Resource Allocation Committee (BRAC) in the C Building on Thursday, March 6, 2014. (Benjamin Simpson/Courier)
Robert Miller, Senior VP/Assistant Superintendent, speaks at the Budget Resource Allocation Committee (BRAC) in the C Building on Thursday, March 6, 2014. (Benjamin Simpson/Courier)

The paid time, known as release time or reassigned time, involves assigned duties for faculty that is performed out of the classroom or is not part of an instructor’s traditional role, according to Robert Miller.

“Reassigned faculty are performing instructional activities deemed important to the attainment of aspects of the college’s Educational Master Plan and student success,” Miller explained in an email.

In general, reassigned time costs the district roughly $3 million dollars a year, according to Miller. Senior Vice President of Academic & Student Affairs Robert Bell and Executive Director of Business Services Joe Simoneschi and Miller provided members with some data to present a better picture of how that may be able to save some money by reducing the amount of faculty on reassign time at PCC.

By making some adjustments to the amount of time some faculty members spend out of the classroom, such as having only 21 full-time faculty members on reassigned time instead of 33, the school could see a savings of $522,716 in total funding, according to Simoneschi.

Faculty member Mary-Erin Crook was shocked at the 48.9 percent increase in release time spending between the 2012-2013 and 2013-2014 school year and wondered why the school increased the amount of time set aside for faculty reassigned time.

Miller speculated it might be the result of the district setting aside a $1 million a year for the Student Access and Success Initiative (SASI) that funds “in-house” innovative projects like Pathways or Stats and Liberal Arts Math (SLAM), which are supported by faculty who are given the time to assist these programs.

“We provide release time and stipends to faculty to do work that many other districts say are within the scope of their contracts,” Miller said.

Bell wanted members to understand that the data was just for consideration and that these figures are not suggestions of what they will do. The data that was provided was just a way to show the committee how much could potentially be saved, as those savings could be reallocated to other areas that would help the school achieve the criteria set by program review across the district. He also emphasized how important the issue was because the work those faculty members do, instructional or non-instructional, serve a purpose to student achievement.

“All of these engagements…underpin student success, “said Bell.

Crook and committee Co-Chair Danny Hamman were interested in receiving data from previous years to get a comparison of the amount of release time that had previously been provided to faculty.

Simoneschi said the he did not see how comparing data from the past would help dictate what the committee would do in the future and that the lack of a centralized system needed to retrieve data makes it difficult to put those numbers together.

Crook felt that having that data from previous years would help the committee create a more workable policy on reassigned time that would come from faculty perpective. Miller also did not see what comparative data would do for informing members about the future.

Hamman compared looking at past data to studying history to get a better understanding of the past to help plan for the future.

“Understanding where we were before…and what the reassign (was then) would help you looking in the middle of it,” Hamman said.

Miller directed Simoneschi to put together data showing release time costs over the last few years.

3 Replies to “Committee looks into reducing “release time” funding”

  1. Release time is “code” for doing nothing off-campus…which is similar to doing nothing on-campus…the norm for most teachers now.

  2. The admin wants to replace faculty members doing reassigned time with full time administrators ( with 6 figure salaries and benefits)- so how much $ will that save? For the school to always insist on looking forward and not learn or observe the past is an indicator of how short sighted the administration is. Pretty soon our budget will be in the red and they will say “oops our bad” (exact words from one vp bell- who is making 6 figures).

    1. Ideally they’d eliminate administrators/deans altogether and fob their former duties off onto the full-time faculty and make them do the work for free. That’s what’s happening with realignment; faculty are now doing Bob Bell’s research for him to determine which organizational structure would be the best. Then faculty will do the former dean’s jobs, too.

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