Running a business is not an easy task (Conner, 2013)! Ask any business owner… The end goal is to maximize your returns on investments to insure the future of your business. That is for every dollar you put into your product, you hope for a larger return. When a business is operating in the red without available funds, it is sure to fail. This is a nightmare for community college districts that rely on government funding to balance their financial sheets to avoid running in the red (Lobosco, 2016). However, the return on public education investments is not measured directly in schools’ dollars and cents; it’s measured on student outcomes. That is that we educate the student body to move forward and contribute back to our communities, which see the monetary returns on their public dollars. A large part of student successful outcomes has been shown to be truer when the faculty obligation number (FON) is closer to 75 full-time with 25 part-time faculty (PTF) (Walton, 2008). This 75/25 FON also affects parity for adjuncts. This article will address the history and importance of FON, and provide some possibilities to reach an ideal FON.
In 1988, the Comprehensive California Community College (CCC) reform bill was passed, California Assembly Bill 1725 (Vasconcellos, 1988). Section 35 of the Bill advises that the 75% of credit instruction should be taught by full-time faculty. The proposal was that when the student body is taught by faculty that has a greater investment in their campus like shared governance, staff development, and job security through the success of the college like full-time faculty do, student’s quality of instruction and academic success is improved! In the year of the passage of AB 1725, baseline for full-time faculty (FTF) averaged 63% for all CCC’s. Section 35 of the bill was added to the state’s education code under Education Code (Ed Code) Section 87482.6. To help achieve this, districts that fell under 75% of the goal were directed to use their program improvement funds established under Ed Code Section 84755 toward reaching the desired FON. If districts did not improve their baseline rate from the previous year, they were penalized between 33 to 40% depending on how far below they were from the goal. Districts that met or were above the FT/PT ratio of 75/25 were free to use their program improvement funds per Section 84755. Unfortunately, the program improvement funds were not part of the state budget after 1991; however, the incentive to move toward the 75/25 ratio was continued in the California Code of Regulations (CCR) Title 5 Section 51025, where the FON and the penalty was further defined. Unfortunately, although Full-time Equivalent Students (FTES) has increased since 1988, the FON has fallen from 63% in 1988 to 55% in 2015. In addition, the FTF and PTF are calculated in a way that does not truly reflect faculty teaching instructional credit courses.
Full-time faculty overload is excluded from the calculation.
Full-time faculty sabbatical is included in the full-time portion and part-time replacements are excluded from the part-time portion.
Full-time faculty reassigned time is included in the full-time portion and part-time replacements are excluded from the part-time portion.
Full-time faculty unpaid leave is included in the full-time portion and part-time replacements are excluded from the part-time portion (Walton, 2004)
Why is this important to adjunct faculty? As long as the incentive to balance the sheets using cheaper labor overrides the cost of moving to the red, the status quo lends itself to continue to move forward keeping the disparity between full-time and part-time faculty.
What can be done to meet the 75/25 (FT/PT) ratio? Past President of Associated Senate of California Community Colleges (ASCCC), Ian Walton (2008), suggested that removing the financial incentive and moving toward parity for part-timers may result in districts making hiring decisions based on the value of education rather than fiscal incentives. Fortunately, Glendale Community College (GCC) District has worked with our GCC Guild to steadily move us in this direction. Most recently, part-timers have gained 1% differential raise compared full-timers (5.5/4.5) in addition to a 2% raise for PT for 2016 compared to 1% for FT faculty per our negotiated contract. Plus, our negotiating teams (Guild & District) are working together to close the gap in proportional office hours for part-time faculty to that of full-time faculty.
Moreover, funding from the state’s budget can be allocated to the Chancellor’s office for new hires across the CCC’s, as was done recently with the $62.3 million that helped GCC hire 25 new full-time faculty. Of course, funding from state dollars to meet the 75/25 ratio usually depends on fiscal priorities, which should put student’s success above all else; case in point, for every dollar the state spends on postsecondary students’ academic success, the net return is $4.5 for the state. Of course, this is not directly to the campus in regards to balancing their sheets, but indirectly from the fiscal success of our students that increase our state’s revenue, which reflects in our state’s budget.
Therefore, let us move forward together to accomplish the best premier education a district can provide by increasing our FON to a 75/25 (FT/PT) ratio in way of closing the gaps on disparities between full-time and part-time faculty, reaching our legislators to compel them to continue to appropriate funds specifically for full-time hires, while continue to support propositions like Prop 55 to continue to provide funding for education for K-12 and community colleges and local measures like Measure GC.