What's Really Happening - 2005/04/13



What's Really Happening

Columbus State Education Association Newsletter of April 13, 2005


Bargaining of the successor agreement to CSEA's first contract is expected to begin next week. The Executive Committee has decided to retain most of the original negotiating team: Steve Abbott, lead negotiator; Amy Brubaker; Karl Rieppel; Darrell Minor; and Bill Mundy. Kevin James has replaced Greg Goodhart, and Lisa Schenider will serve as recorder. Other faculty from both divisions will also serve as a "second bench" to observe the process and train as future negotiators.

The Negotiating Team has been meeting regularly to prioritize issues (based on your feedback to last fall's surveys) and draft proposals. CSEA representatives are also meeting with administration representatives to set up ground rules and schedule meeting dates.


At the Board of Trustees committee meeting March 17, the Board approved the offering of an early retirement incentive plan (ERIP) for Columbus State employees. At present, the window will extend from July 1, 2005, to June 30, 2006. If you are considering taking advantage of this opportunity, it's time to check with State Teachers Retirement System (STRS) and any other state retirement systems in which you may have service credit to determine whether the buy-out will benefit you and your family.

The details of this issue will be part of bargaining talks.


During the Autumn 04-Winter 05 period, the administration attempted to correct the inherent inadequacies of the college's data processing system.

The new hardware has made the system temporarily a little faster and has improved the student registration process a little. But these improvements have just kept a bad situation from getting worse and have not begun to address the Board's failure to effectively manage taxpayer and student tuition dollars. The administration ignored concerns that replacing the existing data processing system would result in the expenditure of a large amount of public money and create operational inefficiencies for many employees. The College is at this point because past Boards, with little or no study, approved the administration's plan to implement a new data processing system without demanding a detailed and meaningful cost-benefit analysis, with a schedule of performance objectives and milestones.

As we all now know, the results were actually worse than was predicted and costs were substantially more then the original $10 million estimated for new software and hardware. Implementation disrupted campus operations to the point that it caused a significant reduction in college enrollment. (By the way, where are the regular departmental enrollment reports we used to get with the Legacy system?)


Although the Datatel system has created improvements in some areas of operation, it has produced only marginal improvements in others. In many cases, in fact, implementation of the new system has created MORE work for faculty (as well as some staff) by transferring work formerly performed by staff support to the "end user"-the faculty member. The College thus saves money and quietly increases workload.

While it is easy to observe and detail past mismanagement, future actions will be more revealing. The college community should expect a clear standard of performance for Board decisions. The Board has both fiduciary and moral responsibilities to the students, employees, and all residents of the service area. While it's true that Board members receive no compensation for their service, this does not relieve them of their responsibility to safeguard and properly administer public funds and assure that employees are able to continue to fulfill the mission of the College without the incremental increases in staff, faculty, and managerial workload that are created and maintained by bad management decisions.


Check your pay stubs for January 31, 2005, and beyond and please report any problems to your CSEA representative. We have discovered that several faculty members did not receive the proper amount for the January 31, 2005, pay period.

Also we have discovered another error in the college payroll reporting computer system. The Datatel system cannot properly report more than five pay categories on the pay stub. However, it does appear to add the non-detailed activities into the gross pay calculation. In any event, this is another example that documents the shortcomings of what was supposed to be a comprehensive data processing system.


While other state community college enrollments have grown or held steady from one year ago, Columbus State's enrollment still showed a decline for Spring Quarter. Although enrollment is up from Winter Quarter, it is still running more than 4% lower than last Spring Quarter.

The College office responsible for research-the Office of Knowledge, Research and Planning (KRaP)-has not publicized what actions it is taking to determine what caused a loss of 10% of our students at a time when other community colleges experienced either flat or slightly increased enrollments. However, the Office of Institutional Advancement is conducting its own, mostly external, research (including surveys, analysis of responses to advertising, follow-up with former students, and contact with students who registered but then did not pay fees) to figure out what combination of internal and external factors undermined the College's past effectiveness at recruiting and retaining students.


We are pleased to report that faculty from many institutions of higher education have contacted their representatives in opposition to State Senator Larry Mumper's so-called "Academic Bill of Rights for Higher Education." The bill, Senate Bill 24, would make students and, presumably, state legislators the arbiters of what can be taught and/or discussed in college classrooms.

Senator Mumper apparently has joined forces with extremist groups that see intellectual inquiry-the foundation of all education and a centerpiece of higher education-as a threat to public order. His legislation, an effort to decide what scholarship (and speech) is legitimate in the social sciences, arts and humanities, would allow students to challenge grades based on perceived "discrimination" against their views. Interestingly, the bill specifically omits the fields of business, finance and engineering, where apparently all theories and practices are incontrovertible and conform to prevailing community standards.

CSEA has joined colleagues at other institutions in opposing this politically motivated legislation, which is a clear example of the new political correctness that values dogma over exploration and debate.


Midstate Educators Credit Union offers teachers at all levels special services that go beyond the traditional credit union. For example, if you're looking to purchase a new computer, MECU offers loans of up to $3,000 for 36 months at a 3% annual percentage rate (APR). You can have loan payments, as well as contributions to a credit union savings or share draft account, deducted from your paycheck.

Call or visit an MECU office, either downtown (221-9376 / 399 East Livingston Avenue) or north (885-2921 / 5020 Sinclair Road) for more information. A new MECU branch will open this summer in Worthington, at 8400 North High Street (north of I-270).

What's Really Happening is produced by the Communications Committee of the Columbus State Education Association. We welcome your comments, news, and insights.

Steve Abbott, President / x5096
Karl Rieppel, Vice President / x2500
Amy Brubaker, Secretary and Association Representative / x5068
Greg Goodhart, Treasurer / x5431
Darrell Minor, Parliamentarian / x5310
Bill Mundy, Association Representative / x5176
Dr. Jane McDowell, Association Representative / x2656 
Dave Busch, Association Representative / x5079
Dr. Charlie Gallucci, Association Representative / x5499
Leslie Smith, Association Representative / x5302
Dr. Wendy McCullen-Vermillion, Association Representative / x2693
Lisa Schneider, Association Representative / x5124

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