The return next year to the traditional academic calendar is a legal requirement placed on the District. When the current calendar was implemented in 2019, it was done so in violation of the faculty contract, board policy, and, ultimately, state and federal law. The District is being ordered by the state to come into compliance with the law and the contract, so that is why the return. If the District wishes to reexamine a return to the current academic calendar and does so in a manner compliant with the faculty contract, board policy, and state and federal law, the union is not opposing those reexaminations.
There remains the option of a settlement agreement with the District that could allow for retaining the current calendar schedule. Some faculty have expressed a preference for this option. Though we maintain an open mind and are not opposed to any settlement talks, this is not the direction we wish to go at the moment. The reasons are several. First, considerable time and expense were expended seeking the current remedy, including legal costs and testimony. In 2019, at the December 9 Board meeting, the Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve an illegal calendar, and this was despite the input of constituent groups. The students, at that time, overwhelmingly supported keeping Winter Intersession (only 9% of students were dissatisfied with the calendar), and 83% of faculty supported retaining the winter intersession. The District argued that summer enrollments/FTES would increase and those course offerings in the sciences would increase in the summer session due to the 12-week option. FTES in Summer 2019 was 1036. Last summer it was 1029. The peak in summer FTES occurred, ironically, during the summer at the height of the pandemic when FTES was 1059. There has been no growth in summer FTES, despite the loss of Winter Intersession and summer expanding by 50%. Moreover, retention and success rates have plummeted in the 6-week summer courses, and it has been challenging to find faculty who will teach the 12-week sessions. Additionally, high school students cannot attend the 6-week and 12-week summer sessions because the high school schedule overlaps the start of the summer session. Lastly, Winter Intercession allowed students to complete course requirements for transfer at the end of Spring and opened up summer for employment and internship opportunities for our students.
Compared to 2020, we lost over 1800 FTES in 2022. Over 80% of that loss came from Intersession and Spring, the two most affected semesters by the calendar change. Summer overall had a much smaller loss (only 1.5%), but given it was expanded by 50% it’s clearly not giving us much of a boost in numbers. Winter Intercession FTES in 2020 was 414. That’s 23%, almost a quarter, of all FTES losses. We believe, separately from the legal issue, that the restoration of Winter Intersession will better serve our students, the college, and the community. Serving better during Winter Intersession can also come by serving our students through modalities that were not offered before.
In closing, some may have found a way to compensate for Intersession course losses in their area, but that is not a guarantee of all areas doing so. As the implementation of the current calendar was illegal, the District has a responsibility to identify who did lose and compensate them, as ordered by the state in their “make whole” provision of the judgment. Additionally, make whole encompasses more than just lost courses, but also faculty who lost outside income opportunities due to not having January available to them anymore.
Your Union Team.