The Budget Resource and Allocation Committee (BRAC) convened its regular monthly meeting Sept. 25 to discuss the new methods that will determine how school resources are distributed.
Ryan Cornner, Assistant VP of Strategic Planning, gave a presentation on how integrated budget planning allows funds to be spent more effectively, advocating that input on how to spend resources should be taken from the smallest levels of the school system where there is the most contact with students and employees.
Cornner said that since the school’s income and costs are largely fixed from year to year, any excess funds are typically used on “whatever fire needs to be put out at that moment.”
However, he said that accreditation standards require that the school must do a better job of linking funds with student learning outcomes so that budget choices can be evaluated based on classroom performance.
Cornner, reminding the assembled that they were a budget committee, asked if anyone knew how resources were prioritized.
“Resources, historically, have always been rolled forward, so there is no prioritization process to do that,” replied faculty representative Rod Foster. “So, I would say they are not being prioritized.”
Cornner indicated this was “an opportunity for growth.”
“We need to allow the people who have the direct contact with the students so that they can say what their needs really are and we need to have a process for evaluating that,” he said.
Having budget requests come from closer to the classroom level is an effective way to ensure that resources positively influence results, according to Cornner.
“For example, in order to be effective, [a social science class] really needs a cart of computers to help them with their statistics and research methods class,” he said. “If they have outcomes to justify that, it could be considered a valuation to be used later on.”
“If you want to know what a college really values, look at where it spends its money,” said Cornner. “You can have plenty of planning documents, but where you put your money is what you really value.”
“It’s really about putting the requests in the hands of the people who have the immediate interaction,” added Joe Simoneschi, executive director of business services and committee co-chair.
Since budgets are shaped well in advance of the school year they govern, the changes Cornner outlined will not be implemented until the 2016-17 school year, a fact that drew a wry response from California School Employees Association representative Raudel “Rudy” Perez.
“So I’ll be retired by then, huh?” asked Perez, eliciting laughs from around the table.
The committee’s next meeting is scheduled for October 23 at 2:30pm.