Editorial: District must be transparent, practical

De Anza College should emerge from its budget crisis with many programs and options for students, interim President Christina Espinoza-Peib said during a De Anza Instructional Planning and Budget Team meeting on May 22.

So that “we don’t become a STEM college,” she said.

Why not?

Why dismiss such an idea when our district is making thoughtless cuts without a forward thinking strategy?

So far, the Foothill-De Anza District’s administration has handled our budget crisis poorly, making crucial decisions without transparency or a clear pragmatic vision.

The lack of communication with students and faculty is unacceptable.

At the district’s Board of Trustees meeting on June 11, Kathy Perino, Foothill-De Anza Faculty Association chief negotiator, said district officials have repeatedly announced huge budget decisions, such as eliminating nine full time positions with no apparent input from faculty and staff.

Although there are faculty and staff on the planning and budget teams that make cuts, Perino’s concerns about the district undervaluing faculty input should not be ignored.

During the board meeting – packed with faculty attending to speak their piece on the district’s decisions – three faculty members gave up their time slots to allow Perino to finish her statement.

The district has not been transparent to students either. As La Voz made documentaries on programs sent to a viability committee for budget cuts, we found that most of the students we interviewed did not know that their own programs were in jeopardy. De Anza could solve this problem by contacting students in programs under review for cuts and encouraging them to attend important meetings and give input.

The district is making important decisions without transparency and without a cohesive, practical vision. Despite the gravity of this process, the administration has not provided a strategy to explain their decisions.

Planning and budget teams often make important decisions based purely on enrollment numbers, and not on how the loss of programs and faculty will affect the identity and functionality of our campuses.

At the same Instructional Planning and Budget Team meeting on May 22, faculty and administrators were asked to text their answers to the question, “What is the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about ‘De Anza College’?”

The answers then appeared on a screen in the meeting room.

Those nebulous submissions, the most common answer being “community,” – duh – are the closest thing we have to a unified vision for this process.

The administration has not made its motives clear, and judging by its actions, it is not focused on serving the best interests of students.

Foothill-De Anza administration: Give students and faculty a real opportunity to influence budget decisions, and listen to their voices. Be practical, open, and keep our best interests at heart.