MPC may cut a dozen teachers and ax entire departments because of the state budget deficit.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
Ansel Adams played an instrumental role in creating the Monterey Peninsula College photography department, according to its supporters at the March 8 board of trustees meeting. But next year, the popular program located in the heart of this “Mecca for photographers worldwide” may shutter its doors.
At the Tuesday night meeting, MPC trustees voted to “reduce or eliminate” 12 full-time faculty positions and “any services provided by adjunct faculty or temporary employees in the same faculty service.”
Response from school administration was almost as impassioned as the three hours of comment from from student, teachers and community members pleading with the board to vote no on the cuts to departments that include the college’s popular dance program.
“I’m feeling pissed off,” said MPC President Douglas Garrison. “To sum up what I heard today: It was beautiful. Well thought out. Passionate.”
The full-time jobs on the chopping block include: one from academic support center services, one from administration of justice, one from coaching services/physical education, one from dance, one from horticulture, one from interior design, one from international students program services, one from photography, one from physics/astronomy, one from American Sign Language and two from counseling services.
Many of these departments – including administration of justice, dance, horticulture, photography and American Sign Language – only have one full-time faculty member (plus adjuncts). So cutting the one full-time teacher from the photography department, for example, Chair Kevin Bransfield, plus adjuncts, will eliminate the whole program.
The trustee vote doesn’t guarantee that these teachers will receive pink slips and departments will close. But the MPC trustees had to vote to approve the layoffs to meet the state’s March 15 deadline – the date by which the administration must notify any full-time employees that the school isn’t going to reemploy them the following academic year. Depending on how state lawmakers solve the deficit, MPC may lose $5.5 million from its budget (See news story, p. 8).
“Cutting the photography department is the wrong decision to make,” Bransfield told trustees. “Ansel Adams, Edward Weston, if they could be in this room right now would urge you to please be the stewards of its future.” (In fact, Kim and Gina Weston – Kim is Edward’s grandson and the couple’s Scholarship Fund often gives financial support to MPC photography students – were in the room.)
In addition to photography, dance and ASL turned out massive numbers of supporters to the standing-room only auditorium.
“ASL is the only language where you can’t go visit a foreign country and be immersed,” ASL teacher Karla Moore said. “ASL teachers give students the opportunity to be involved in the deaf language and deaf culture.”
Garrison said he made a personal call to state Sen. Sam Blakeslee; the San Luis Obispo area lawmaker was one of five GOP senators negotiating with the governor up until March 7, at which point the five said they had reached an “impasse” on budget negotiations.
“I’m disappointed and very angry by the cavalier, partisan attitude in Sacramento,” Garrison continued. Republicans want a cuts-only budget to fill the $26.6 billion gap; Democrats said they’ll cut $12.5 billion, but they also want to ask voters to extend higher taxes for five years, which would bring in about $10 billion to the state and mean less severe cuts to education in California.