By Ethan Bronstein, Sports Editor
May 30, 2021
The Peralta Board of Trustees met for their standard meeting on May 11th and started with Board Vice President Nicky González Yuen describing staff appointments, evaluations and dismissals that were discussed in closed session. The board agreed to appoint Veronica Montoya as the Director of Hispanic Serving Institutions at Berkeley City College and the ratification of Atheria Smith as Interim Vice Chancellor of General Services.
During the open session, the main concern was centered around a lack of full-time faculty. On April 30th, 28 faculty members who were in the process of being hired were “frozen and reconsidered.”
According to Peralta Federation of Teachers President Jennifer Shanowski, “Our colleges were never intended to be run by a contingent workforce.” She added that the proposed budget for next month had “more than $5,000,000 for faculty alone embedded in it.” The amount of full-time faculty has dropped precipitously, falling from 334 to just 253 during 2018-2020.
“If I’ve learned anything in the past four years in my role as tenure facilitator, (it) is that when we hire full-timers we’re making a long term investment in our students and our colleges,” said David Mitchell, a full-time ESOL instructor and the tenure facilitator at Laney who has been teaching at the college since 2005.
Jane McKenna, head librarian for the College of Alameda, spoke about the impacts of the hiring freeze. “During Covid, two full-time staff members in the library have retired,” leaving them with only one full-time staff member. She said the library plans to open in a six phase process that could not move forward without pre-Covid staffing levels.
Many former and current full-time faculty who had never attended a board meeting prior to the 11th echoed similar concerns and fiercely advocated for their department and colleagues in a plea to lift the hiring freeze that has been highly detrimental to the district.
Following these comments, the board approved several sabbaticals. Trustee Linda Handy noted that she wanted to mandate presentations from those who go on sabbaticals. “A sabbatical is an investment in our faculty members in anticipation for what they’re going to bring back to the classroom,” she said, which would in turn give a timetable so they could be supported.
The next board meeting took place on May 25th.