A winter intersession will be reinstated in the 2016-2017 academic calendar following the July decision by the Public Employment Relations Board that the district violated the law when eliminating the winter intersession in the 2012-2013 academic year.
The July 30th PERB ruling stated that the district unilaterally implemented new terms and conditions of employment when adopting a new calendar in 2012-2013 academic year – which caused a loss of wages for faculty affected by the calendar change.
The Board of Trustees accepted the ruling and chose not to submit any exceptions to the decision, which orders the district to reinstate winter by the 2016-2017 calendar year and compensate employees for “any losses suffered as a result of the change,” including interest at the rate of 7 percent per year. The district is currently working with the Faculty Association to calculate the financial impact eliminating winter had on affected staff.
Roger Marheine, president of the Faculty Association during the span of the lawsuit initially filed in 2012, said that the FA pushed for reinstating winter for the 2015-2016 academic calendar.
“Upon hearing the PERB findings, we informed the college that we wanted to reinstate Winter in 2016,” wrote Marheine in an email. “Unfortunately, the college has refused. However, by law the college must implement Winter in 2017. I personally would have hoped to get back on track earlier, but that is where things stand at the moment.”
Dr. Robert Bell, assistant superintendent of academic and student affairs, said that the reinstatement of winter will move forward through the shared governance process, just like it did last year, before a calendar will be submitted to the Board of Trustees for approval.
Changing the 2015-2016 academic calendar after it has already begun could negatively affect students, Bell said, just like it did when winter was taken away suddenly in the 2012-2013 academic year. He believes proper planning is necessary to make the transition easier for students – which includes submitting proper financial aid disbursement dates to the government based on a new calendar and programming our course registration portal website to reflect these changes.
“We made that change too quickly and it impacted the students negatively,” said Bell. “So I’m disinclined to go back and make the same mistake twice.”
While the FA disagrees that adding winter to the current calendar would disrupt student planning by adding a session — not eliminating one — they are still hopeful about the future of shared governance decisions and the administration’s willingness to take faculty input into consideration.
“It is my impression about Dr. Vurdien that he is listening and hearing—which is a wonderful thing and he has an open door policy which is a wonderful thing,” said Julie Kiotas, the current president of the Faculty Association. “They have opened the door for more communication. Where the communication leads is yet to be borne out, we’ll see where we go.”
The poor communication and planning between shared governance—which includes staff, administrators, students and classified employees—has contributed to PCC being put on academic probation by the Accrediting Commission of Community Junior Colleges. Bell believes that shared governance is heading in the right direction in regard to resolving these issues.
“I think we’re getting there, we still have a ways to go,” said Bell. “But the platform of discussion is much better now than it was, let’s say, two or three years ago.”
The calendar committee will be informed of the PERB decision during their meeting on Thursday, Sept. 24 before moving forward with their calendar recommendation.