By Tim Maguire/The Guardsman
District 9 Supervisor David Campos proposed a resolution to restore the school’s Board of Trustees following state Senate Bill 965 being introduced Feb. 10 to recover lost federal funding due to dwindling enrollment at City College.
Campos stressed the importance of the democratically-elected Board of Trustees’ ability to make policy decisions that affect all City College students during the Feb. 11 San Francisco Board of Supervisors meeting.
The Board of Trustees were stripped of their power in July 2013.
“This resolution urges California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris to restore a voice back to voters of San Francisco and bring back transparency and public accountability by promptly restoring the duly-elected Board of Trustees,” Campos said.
The resolution also calls for the removal of Special Trustee Robert Agrella, who replaced the board and operates with little public oversight.
“[Agrella] is making major decisions behind closed doors that normally would have gone in front of the Board of Trustees,” Campos said. “Some decisions we believe would not have been made had there been an open, democratic process and a forum for the public to know about these decisions.”
He noted the new payment system, a closed-door decision that has especially hurt undocumented students who must pay out-of-state tuition costs that are nearly three times more than San Francisco residents.
“These are low-income students who just want more time to pay, which the college had previously provided,” Campos said.
Members of the Board of Trustees, Save CCSF Coalition and the American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 then spoke in support of the resolution during the meeting’s public comment time.
“It’s time to bring democracy back to City College and control of the school back to San Francisco residents,” Board of Trustees President John Rizzo said.
City College transitional studies instructor Rodger Scott believes unnecessary spending could have been avoided if the board was in power.
“If we still had the Board of Trustees, we wouldn’t have needed to spend $500,000 for advertising to increase enrollment, while the administration was cutting classes at the same time,” Scott said.
Outside the meeting, Alissa Messer, president of AFT Local 2121, was concerned about how top administrators almost quietly received a nearly 20 percent salary hike pending Agrella’s approval, and how decisions like these should be made by the democratic board.
“Things are getting worse,” Messer said. “We need our board back to see what’s been happening at City College.”
Student Trustee Shanell Williams also attended the board meeting, but just like Rizzo, she no longer has a formal role to play in the ongoing City College drama.
“Students are feeling disenfranchised by the Accrediting Commission of Colleges and Junior Colleges, the [special trustee] and the chancellor’s office,” Williams said after the meeting.
“San Francisco deserves to have a voice in major decisions.