Faculty Council Report on Budget Process, 2017-18

Dear Colleagues,

At Faculty Council’s October 27, 2017 meeting, Vice President of College Services Brian Kelly and Strategic Planning and Budget Officer Jennifer Steele presented on the Administration’s proposed budget timeline for this year. Faculty Council felt the information shared was important enough to pass on in detail to the faculty as a whole in order to:

1) give you a sense of the way the budget process as a whole may be impacted by these changes;

2) share our concerns about the proposed process; and

3) offer you the opportunity to join in this conversation. 

We will synthesize the discussion that takes place here for presentation to the Board during their Thursday, Nov. 9 meeting, so please comment by Tuesday, Nov. 7 at the end of the day. This blog is a publicly accessible document. 

 

We recommend you use the following documents as resources:

Budget Development Calendar: https://www.lanecc.edu/sites/default/files/budget/budget_development_calendar.pdf

Planning and Budget Development Calendar:

https://www.lanecc.edu/sites/default/files/budget/planning_budget_development_calendar_2017-18.pdf

Standard Data Package:

https://www.lanecc.edu/planning/standard-data-package

 

NOTE: The remainder of this document has been edited in response to communication from Jen Steele and Brian Kelly, and hopefully is more thorough in its information and precise in its language than it was originally. All quotations below are taken from that communication.

 

Here are the key aspects of the budget process as presented by Brian Kelly and Jennifer Steele: According to their presentation, based on feedback from last year’s budget process that departments didn’t have enough time to respond to proposed cuts and reductions, the Administration has proposed a new budget process timeline (see above for a simple or more detailed version). According to Brian and Jen, the new timeline is “designed to provide impacted faculty, staff, and students with time and opportunity to engage in impact analysis and consideration of alternatives with administration” as well as to “provide clarity in roles and decision-making responsibilities.”

 

The timeline is structured as follows: In fall term Institutional Research shares a “standard data package” that includes information on enrollment, completion, demographics, etc. for programs and services. (This document has already been circulated; see above for the link.) Institutional Research and planning staff will “provide an orientation to the data for deans, directors, and faculty engaging in program review, hold open ‘drop-in’ sessions, and also provide individual or group consultation and additional data/analysis to departments and program review teams.” In January, if cuts are deemed a necessary consideration, the Administration will circulate a list of potential program and service reductions and investment options. During winter term, time will be set aside to analyze any impacts of cuts/reductions and to gather feedback from campus stakeholders. The Board will make decisions about program/service investments/reductions on March 30.  The first draft of the budget of the Budget Development Subcommittee (which includes faculty, staff, students, and management) will be forwarded to College Council on April 1.  

 

Here are our takeaways. As currently proposed:

  1. The Administration will develop their list of program/service reductions with the promise of conversations with impacted program/service faculty, staff, and students and (as yet undefined) input sessions focused on “impact analysis” throughout winter term.
  2. Decisions about program/service investments and reductions will be made separate from budget decisions.
  3. The Budget Development Subcommittee, which is made up of faculty, staff, student, and management representatives and has in the past forwarded budgets that differed from Administration’s budgets in regards to program/service reductions and cuts will no longer have the ability to give feedback on program/service reductions except in the context of the conversations and input sessions listed above. They will not be able to offer alternatives to decisions made about program/service reductions within the budget they offer. 

 

Faculty Council appreciates the move towards greater transparency as well as the promise of a longer period set aside for feedback, input, and problem-solving in response to potential program reductions. At the same time, many members of Faculty Council have concerns about the new process. 

 

Concerns that emerged during our October 27 Faculty Council meeting:

  1. The sharing of data does not equate to sharing of information. While faculty and staff can access the standard data package, we do not yet have answers to the questions: Beyond departmental program review, how will this information be used for decision-making about program investments and reductions? Will these kinds of decisions be tied to program review? What are the criteria for decision-making? 
  2. Historically, mechanisms for feedback (2-3 minute speeches at Board meetings, College Council forums, and Dean advocacy) have been insufficient. While the new process extends the time for input/feedback on decisions about program/service investments or reductions, it does not yet demarcate the specific nature of the mechanisms that will be used for this kind of input/feedback.
  3. Historically, there has been little to no legitimate or substantial incorporation of or response to input/feedback from faculty/staff/students. The Board usually has taken the Administration’s proposal and adopted it with little revision. The new process does not yet address this issue.
  4. The new process reduces the ability of the Budget Development Subcommittee — as the key collaborative body working on the budget — to offer alternative financial solutions to program (and job) reductions within the context of a proposed budget.

 

In our meeting, Faculty Council members gave the following suggestions to Brian Kelly and Jennifer Steele:  

  1. Provide commentary on data that reflects how it is being understood and used in the context of decision-making about program/service investments and reductions.  
  2. Provide and define legitimate, substantial, and collaborative mechanisms for faculty, staff, and student participation in initial and subsequent discussion of and recommendations for program/service investments and reductions across the year.
  3. Define formal avenues for advocacy by programs and services under threat of reduction with the legitimate possibility of altering the Board’s course of action.

Now we would like to open the floor for discussion. What do you think about the proposed budget process? Do you share the concerns listed above or have other concerns? What suggestions would you offer?

2 thoughts on “Faculty Council Report on Budget Process, 2017-18

  1. Dale Green

    Thank you for sharing this. I agree with all four of your concerns and with the three suggestions you gave to Brian and Jennifer. Keep up the good work. The administration’s plan for the Budget Development Subcommittee to no longer have the ability to give feedback on program & service reductions is troubling.

    Reply
  2. Jeffrey Borrowdale

    I am also concerned about the Budget Development Subcommittee being cut out of the loop and of very important program cuts and reductions being separated out from the general budget development process with some as yet undefined feedback process.

    Moreover, nothing has been done to address the flawed accounting system in which savings in salary and benefits are counted without consideration of lost tuition and state reimbursement revenue. Social Science data seems to show that students did not “take something else” when the Philosophy and Religion programs were cut. January is definitely much better for identifying possible program or service reductions, but I would hope for more details about opportunities for programs to take corrective action and suggest alternative revenue plans which could be discussed and developed with the administration. Last time plans were put forth and simply rejected out of hand by the administration and the cuts went forward as originally planned, which made the whole process look like a sham.

    Reply

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