Wednesday, Dec. 6, 2017
District haults compensation
SOCCCD BOARD MEETING
Controversy in the boardroom, faculty awaits final verdict on the Canvas conversion stipend AUSTIN WEATHERMAN MANAGING EDITOR
The South Orange County Community College District’s Board of Trustees amended to postpone voting on the Faculty Association’s campus-wide Course Management System compensation stipend Monday, Nov. 13. This is the second time the board has held off from voting on the agenda item. Saddleback College is currently in transition from using Blackboard Learn to Canvas by Instructure for its web-based learning management system. The stipend is intended to compensate the labor of faculty members district-wide spent converting their classes’ online platforms from Blackboard to Canvas. The District Faculty Association and the district’s administration negotiated the stipend for five to six months according to Faculty Association President Mark Blethen. The District Administration put together a compensation for $3.6 million for the time spent converting classes to the Canvas platform by faculty members. The stipend included onetime payments of $5,000 for the conversion of fully online classes, $2,500 for hybrid classes and $1,000 for face-to-face
“This item, in my opinion, is beneath the dignity of our faculty, represents grievous overreach on their part and violates every tennent of our basic aid policy.” David B. Lang
Board of Trustees Member
classes that use Canvas for supplemental materials. Both bodies agreed upon the the compensation package, making the board’s decision to postpone the agenda item an unforeseen obstacle for many in the district. “Neither side anticipated that the board would discount or disregard the recommendation of their own professional staff when it came to a very detailed and complicated proposal,” Blethen said. “In reality, the board needed to decide whether it was right to pay faculty or not.” Controversial statements were made by several trustees at the Nov. 13 board meeting that shocked many faculty members, embodied in board of trustees member David B. Lang’s criticism of the stipend.
“This item, in my opinion, is beneath the dignity of our faculty. (It) represents grievous overreach on their part and violates every tennent of our basic aid policy,” Lang said during the board meeting. “I cannot support it.” Blethen opposed the board’s movement to postpone the vote in an email sent to faculty throughout the district informing those who weren’t in attendance or had left early that the stipend decision had been put on hold until further negotiations. The email went on to recommend faculty stop their work of converting classes to Canvas, to entirely halt the use of the learning management system and to inform their deans that they intended to teach all their classes
face to face for the spring 2018 semester. “I think he dismisses the fact that faculty across the district do a considerable amount of additional and extra work as professionals because it’s best for our students without ever seeking or asking for additional compensation,” Blethen said about Lang in an interview. “There is some deeper issues here philosophically with certain members of the board based on their comments and statements at the last meeting.” “In my opinion, it was a questionable action to delay the vote because we don’t normally negotiate stipends or other things like that,” Academic Senate President Dan Walsh said. “There were a whole bunch of stipends approved on the agenda that weren’t negotiated. One of the board members said that this was an illegal negotiation, which I found humorous because they are basically saying that their own district negotiated illegally.” The board of trustees member cited by Walsh is T.J. Prendergast III, who made the first move to postpone the stipend decision citing that the board
Lariat is the student-run news publication covering Saddleback College, part of the South Orange County Community College District.