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AFT Seattle’s Response to Financial Information on SCD’s Website

The Seattle Colleges District website gives the public information about our current financial situation and the District’s decisions regarding the situation. AFT Seattle finds sections of the information to be objectionable to faculty, creating an administrative narrative that we believe shows faculty in a negative light.

We invite you to submit your reactions to their information directly to the chancellor and trustees. Let’s tell them how their portrayal of the situation sounds from our perspective, and copy so we know your thoughts, too. 

See the District’s postings here:

Have there been personnel reductions?

District Statement:

  • Seattle Colleges made a Voluntary Early Retirement/Separation Incentive Plan available to all employees (faculty and staff) who met eligibility requirements.
  • There have been layoffs and temporary reductions in hours for staff. 
  • Non-represented exempt, represented professional staff, and classified staff have been laid off, non-renewed, not replaced after incumbents have left Seattle Colleges, and transferred to alternative funding sources.

AFT Seattle response:  

Seventeen full-time faculty accepted the tenure buyout, resulting in a 6% reduction in the number of full-time faculty. This reduction  shifts non-instructional duties to already overworked full-time faculty and affects the access that students have to their instructors.

According to 10th day rosters given to AFT by the District office, about 120 PTF or 18% were laid off or not rehired due to program closures and low enrollments from Fall 2019 to Fall 2020, which was a trend around the state before the pandemic and has been exacerbated due to the pandemic.  These 120 people are now unemployed and uninsured during a pandemic. 

How much have we spent on instruction versus administration?

District statement:

  • The wages spent on administration increased a total of 2.1 percent while at the same time Part-time faculty had the biggest decrease (5.5 percent).
  • The adopted budget for FY 2020-21 includes $3.2 million reduction for Siegal/District Office budget.

AFT Seattle response:

While it is true that the district will take a $3M cut, it represents only a -13% reduction from the previous year. According to the District’s 2020-2021 Budget, other areas of the district are taking double or even more than triple that reduction: Instruction -28%, Instructional Support -28%, Institutional Support -45%.

According to audited financial documents submitted by the District to the state, expenditures on Instruction have fallen over the last 5 years from over 50% of total expenditures to 40%.  This means that the district is spending a majority of its money on priorities that are NOT part of its primary mission of educating students.

The data displayed by the District in this section compares total expenditure in wages of 2 different groups of employees: senior administrators and faculty. With approximately 900 faculty and 60 senior administrators, it is obvious that a considerably larger amount of money will be spent on faculty wages due to the fact that there are more people in this category. Using a dollar-to-dollar comparison falsely distorts the individual salaries in question.  According to faculty salary surveys put out by the State of Washington, full-time faculty wages at Seattle Colleges District (SCD) continue to lag behind faculty at other colleges even though faculty at SCD work and live in the most expensive area in the state and region and one of the most expensive in the country. Currently, FTF at SCD rank 6th in the state behind Bellingham, Bellevue, Renton Tech, Green River and Shoreline. FTF at SCD have never been #1 according to past surveys and have ranked as low as 20th. 

Have there been salary cuts?

District statement:

  • Since the initiation of budgetary reduction measures, all employee groups, except faculty, have been impacted by salary reductions. Faculty, as an employee group, have not participated in furlough or forgoing COLAs.
  • Below is a listing of how the salaries of individual employee groups have been affected by the FY 20 and FY 21 budgets.
  • Full-Time Faculty:  No salary reductions, No furloughs 
  • Part-Time Faculty: No salary reductions, No furloughs

AFT Seattle response:  

SCD did not bring a proposal to AFT Seattle regarding furloughs or salary reductions.  Twice, administrators mentioned a plan to bring a proposal, but it didn’t materialize.  AFT Seattle was clear that before considering furloughs, we would need to see information making the case for the necessity of faculty furloughs.  We also asked about avoiding negative impacts on students, who would lose instructional time.

Faculty are already significantly underpaid in comparison to peers in similar urban settings and in regard to the cost of living index for areas of Washington state.  FTF at SCD rank 6th in the state behind Bellevue College, Green River College and 3 others even though we live and work in the most expensive area of the state and region. While part-time faculty (PTF) may have higher salaries than their PT peers, they are also contingent employees hired quarter to quarter, making around 60-70% of the full time salary pro-rated for their workload.  Our colleges have lost 120 (18%) part-time faculty in from Fall, 2019 to Fall, 2020.

PTF take a form of institutionalized furlough every quarter by not being paid during breaks which adds up to 8-10 weeks of unpaid time per year per faculty member. Many PTF take unemployment benefits during this time thus making them technically unemployed. Therefore, PTF should not be asked to take another furlough.

District Statement:

  • Funds spent on wages for senior leadership have remained relatively steady.  Senior leadership represents about 3.10 percent ($3.5M) of total funds ($116M) spent on wages. 

AFT Response:

Again, presenting the total dollar amount of salary expenditure for categories containing 60 employees versus 900 employees portrays an irrelevant comparison designed to elicit a negative intuitive reaction toward faculty.

A better comparisons could include the percentage of expenditures spent yearly and over time on the District office compared to instruction, or identifying the number of administrators year to year.  

According to audited reports of SCD submitted to the State of Washington, the percentage of expenditures on administration has remained steady while the percentage of expenditures on Instruction has fallen from over 50% to 40%. This means that SCD spends a majority of its money NOT on its number one goal of educating students: Instruction.

District Statement:

  • The adopted budget for FY 2020-21 includes $3.2 million reduction for Siegal/District Office budget, separate from reductions by the colleges. This reduction includes more than 30 positions: 24 from HR, IT, and Academic and Student Success; and 12 from International Programs. The reductions included eliminated positions, unfilled positions, early retirements.

AFT Response:

According to SCD’s FY2020-2021 budget, the District Office budget has been reduced by $3M. However,  the percentage of reduction in spending on Siegal Center -13% is only half the percentage of reduction as instruction -28%, instructional support -28% and only about ⅓  the cut Institutional Support -45%.

Also looking at the budget, when we rank the expenditure categories, we find that the #1 expense for the District is Instruction, which would be logical since there are nearly 900 faculty and educating students in our #1 goal. But what is the #2 most expensive category? Student Services? Instructional Support? Institutional Support? No, the #2 most expensive category is the District office. If the District is truly focused on student success, they would redistribute the money towards student-facing services rather than funding an office that many students don’t know even exists. 

In converting instruction to the on-line format, faculty spent hundreds of hours doing training and getting support for teaching in an unfamiliar mode.  Faculty continue to spend additional time improving their on-line/hybrid offerings beyond what would be required for in-person instruction.  Faculty receive no additional pay for these hours.  

Faculty who are teaching in person have been required to complete safety training and do back-to-work plans.  In class, faculty are monitoring safety protocols while trying to deliver effective instruction. These additional duties are uncompensated and added on top of regular instruction.

All faculty, whether in-person or on-line, are lending emotional, technical, and advising support to students and colleagues that goes above and beyond what is normal.  There is no additional pay for the extra time spent meeting student needs.

In remote operations, faculty are not using personal days, and are possibly using less sick leave.  SCD also announced that faculty teaching remotely will not suspend operations when we have weather events, power outages, or other situations that would normally shut down the colleges.

How have part-time (PT) faculty been affected?

District Statement:

  • In order to diversify the faculty in the coming years, we need to review and adjust the diversity makeup of the PT faculty, particularly the PHL faculty.
  • The number of PT faculty has fallen over the last past five years (as a result of declining enrollment). The total amount spent on PT wages has dropped by about 11.5 percent over the past five years.
  • The reductions in PT faculty hires and/or course sections are in response to declining enrollment and should not be seen as a proactive budget-saving mechanism.

AFT Seattle response:  

Part-time faculty make up nearly 70% of the faculty at SCD.  They are in the most vulnerable position in the district because, when demand decreases, they are not guaranteed a job at the end of the quarter when their contract ends.  They are  laid off or not rehired. From Fall, 2019 to Fall, 2020, nearly 120 (18%) of PTF  were laid off or not rehired due to program closures and low enrollments, losing their health benefits during a pandemic and losing their ability to pay rent and utilities in an economically challenging time.

While the laying off of part-time faculty may not be a proactive budget saving mechanism, it is definitely a loss of personnel during budget reductions that have a tremendous impact on student success. Not acknowledging this is not acknowledging the contributions of the part-time faculty.

Unit Administrators hire part-time faculty.  If the group is not diverse, then administrators need to change the hiring practices that they follow.  The AFT Negotiations Team has continually asked for modifications in this hiring process in order to diversify the part-time faculty pool. The district refuses to accept these changes.

Priority Hire status is a vital benefit to part-time faculty in our district.  Job security provisions help to attract a wider pool of applicants.  However, Unit Administrators too often make the conscious decision to keep part-time faculty from attaining priority hire status.  They also don’t track employment statistics on the part-time faculty to know whether faculty who bring diversity are getting opportunities to earn job security.

Why are the programs and jobs serving students being cut? How does this align with our core mission?

District Statement:

  • Despite budget challenges, Seattle Colleges is committed to serving students and their success. We have made students and student learning our first priority. When making any budgetary decisions, we will attempt to minimize or reduce any adverse effects on students and student learning.

AFT Response:

A number of healthy programs have been cut (PE and Parent Ed at Central) in the name of budget reductions. 6% FTF took the retirement package. Nearly 120 (18%) PTF were laid off or not rehired due to program closures and low enrollments. Institutional Support is taking a -45% cut while the district office is taking a -13% cut. Student-facing staff positions have been lost in departments like the financial aid office. While it is nice for the district to say that students are their number one priority, this evidence shows the contradiction. 

How has ASI affected the budget? Were there budget savings? Are we more efficient?

District Statement:

  • In regard to ASI's results, the Educational Policy Institute issued a report assessing ASI in November 2019 and, in October 2020, Chancellor Pan responded to ASI inquires about the status of ASI and how much money was saved.

AFT Response:

Neither of the documents show a total savings of ASI. The report shows a savings in 2 out of 4 areas of integration only, which leaves open the question of if the other 2 areas actually had savings or increased spending. We would like to see a number that reflects a total savings, not just in 2 areas, that compares budgets before ASI and budgets after ASI.