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September 2014

 

Reclaiming the promise
by Kevin Peterman

 

Welcome back! As we start the new year, the FA leadership will be focused on two major initiatives: reclaiming the promise and an FA initiative for mediation training, problem solving and dispute resolution.

We will also be celebrating some of our past initiatives, which will be moving to their next phases. In October, the new William J. Lindsay Science Building on the Ammerman campus will be opened. Later in the semester, the new learning resource center on the Grant campus will have its groundbreaking ceremony.


Reclaiming the promise

In July your FA delegates were at the AFT Convention in Los Angeles and the AFT theme was “reclaiming the promise”—investing in public education. My first reaction was that this was a mostly K-12 push for local school districts. But as I thought about it, I realized New York State has not abided by its promise to fund their community college.

In the early 1970s education law was approved funding New York’s community colleges, specifically NY Education Law §6304: NY Code- Section 6304: Financing of community colleges. The law talks about the oft-mentioned 1/3 funding formula: 1/3 from the students, 1/3 from the county and 1/3 from the state.

But the laws states, “Such aid for a college shall, however, be for two- fifths of operating costs for any fiscal year of the college during which it is implementing a program of full opportunity provided a plan has been approved by the state university trustees.”

Forty percent! What are we actually getting from the state, however? According to the Suffolk County Legislature’s Budget Review Office June 9, 2014, Report, New York state’s revenue for SCCC’s 2014-15 budget will be $49.3 million, which is about 24% of our total budget (view the full budget report here).

So, this semester the FA will be organizing all the community colleges in NY to “reclaim the promise” and insist that New York state fund its community colleges as it promised in its own 1970s legislation.

We will also be engaging our student leaders because adequate funding from the state will lead to lower tuition.

How can you help? There are two ways: The first is to contribute to, or increase, your contribution to VOTE/ COPE. It is with political involvement that we will make change. Second, empower your students. Working together, we can “reclaim the promise”!


New FA initiative: The mediation project

At our June Executive Council meeting, the EC approved funding for the FA to hire a consultant who will provide training to develop and implement an FA program of internal mediation and conflict management.

We are basing this program on the Monroe Community College Faculty Association, which has had it in place for many years. It is run by faculty for faculty. Faculty will be working with full and part-time FA members to resolve issues. It is not a labor/management program.

I have asked our EC rep Dante Morelli of the Ammerman communications department to chair the mediation and conflict management committee—see Dante's article in this issue for more information. We will be selecting about a dozen faculty members to participate in a January 2015 six-day training session. Faculty will be trained on conflict resolution, negotiation and problem solving and mediation techniques.

Our goal is to have the program operational in September 2015.

So, on the statewide level, we will be engaging in “reclaiming the promise” and at the college we will be working on a union sponsored mediation and conflict management project.

No doubt it will be an interesting year. With your support it will be a great year as well.

As always, we encourage you to get involved because activism works!