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Compton College Faculty Told of Possible Layoffs

The warnings received by all full-time workers at the two-year school come as Santa Monica College trustees plan to end 10 programs.

March 12, 2003|Monte Morin | Times Staff Writer

All full-time employees at Compton Community College received notices this week of possible layoff, and Santa Monica College trustees on Tuesday announced the elimination of 10 academic programs.

The actions were the latest indications of just how severely the state budget crisis is likely to affect California's community college system. Faced with grim news from Sacramento, many colleges have eliminated temporary staff positions and cut their course offerings.

The distribution of "pink slips" in Compton on Monday to more than 100 workers, including teachers and administrators, doesn't mean those people will lose their jobs, administrators said; it means they might. Employees will be notified individually on May 15 about their status.

Surprised members of the faculty union held an emergency meeting Tuesday afternoon, and later more than 60 protested at the board of trustees meeting.

"You're on the brink of illegal termination," said union official and telephone technician Glenn Davis, objecting to the blanket of notices.

Supt.-President Ulis C. Williams said the district, which has a $27-million budget, faces a $2.2-million shortfall in state funding. The notices, he said, were "a painful course of action. Unfortunately, the economic condition of the state gives us no choice."

Board President Kent Swift said the board would consider other options before deciding to lay off staff. "Unfortunately, people took this really hard. But nothing's etched in stone," he said.

Faculty members said they were angry at how they learned of the possible layoffs. Monday morning, they found notes in their mailboxes telling them to go to the college's human services office. There, each was asked to sign for an envelope that contained a dismissal notice.

College spokesman Stan Myles said the notices provided proper notice in the event that budget cuts require layoffs.

"We are facing the same situation as every other community college because of budget cuts," said Myles, who got a notice.

In its announcement, Santa Monica College said trustees voted Monday to discontinue 10 academic programs and 13 administrative positions, effective July 1. Officials said they would try in the intervening months to save at least some of the programs, which include public safety, architecture and respiratory therapy. Most of the affected administrators will be reassigned to the classroom, officials said.

Herb Roney, chairman of the college's board of trustees, called the decision the most painful ever made at the two-year college, but said the state budget cuts "give us no option."

The college already had made a series of reductions, including cutting about 250 class sections, along with 16 part-time counselors and most of its temporary employees. College officials said more reductions could be necessary in the coming months.

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Times staff writers Stuart Silverstein and Rebecca Trounson contributed to this report.

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