Gav trustee gives reasons for big raise

The Gavilan College Board’s decision to give Steve Kinsella a raise commensurate with the salary at West Valley/Mission Community College District was based on Gavilan’s sound fiscal policy and fiscal health.
When I was elected to the Gavilan College Board of Trustees Gavilan College had a budget of under $20 million and was running large deficits with a very small reserve fund. In the early 1990’s, the state of California raided funds from public education to use to try to balance its own budget from a huge deficit. The effect on Gavilan was the closure of programs, layoff of personnel, and much fewer offerings for our students. Under previous presidents, Gavilan’s deficits were large, reserves small,and tension on campus high due to the lack of trust in the administration.
When Dr. Kinsella took over as president in January, 2002, Gavilan’s deficit was $1.8 million and we had $1 million in reserves. In one year, Gavilan had zero deficit, $57,000 in surplus, and $1.7 million in reserves. Gavilan closed its books for  academic year 2010-2011 with a surplus of $650,000 and 10 percent in reserves (the state requires we have at least 5 percent).
During Dr. Kinsella’s term as president, Gavilan has been able to continue to provide the same level of service to our community with decreasing funding from the state. A bond measure was passed in 2004, and our project list has been completed all within budget. A quick walk around the Gilroy campus will show you state-of-the-art computer and television labs; state-of-the art classrooms; a new adaptive health facility; new lighting for increased safety; re-done parking lots which accommodate a larger number of students; new tennis courts; and finally, air conditioning in the theatre. Our satellite campuses in Hollister and Morgan Hill are operating at capacity and have been successful beyond our imagination.
We have also purchased property in Coyote Valley and Hollister for our new campuses, which is part of our strategic plan. The Gilroy Early College Academy, which is a partnership with Gilroy Unified School District and Gavilan graduated its first class in May. Students attending GECA are able to take college classes at the same time they are taking their high school classes.
Graduates went on to such schools as UC Davis and UCLA at 18 years of age. We have long-term contracts with our unions and, more importantly, there is trust in the administration.
Gavilan’s faculty, staff, and students work together with the administration to set our budget. We have held our class schedule intact, absorbing the increased enrollment. We kept our summer semester operating, while surrounding colleges closed theirs.
Dr. Kinsella has a Ph.D. in business administration and his knowledge of accounting and his unique ability to apply businessälike policies to an educational institution has been invaluable. Dr. Kinsella is in demand across our state as a speaker and consultant on fiscal issues. Dr. Kinsella is on the state accreditation team and spends time at other campuses analyzing their financial problems. Under Dr. Kinsella’s leadership, Gavilan has won numerous awards and our programs have been used as models for other colleges in the state.
The Board has been prepared for at least the last four years for the possibility that Steve would accept a position at a larger college, as colleges that are in financial trouble have tried to recruit him. Steve has earned a chancellorship, whether it be West Valley, or elsewhere.
But the Board did not want to let him go. When financial times are good and money is flowing it probably doesn’t matter who is president. But, when times are tough, and the state keeps decreasing our funding, and our student population keeps increasing, then it does matter who is president.
We structured the increase in salary for Dr. Kinsella as incentive pay to be implemented over four years; he will receive an increase of half of his raise each year of four years, with the balance deferred to 2015. The college saves at least the first two years of this raise alone by not having to conduct a search for a new college president, not to mention the intrinsic savings of no interruption to programs and budget planning during a year or two transition time.
Dr. Kinsella took no raise for 2008-2009, nor 2009-2010. Other employees received raises. The Board is also aware of the caliber of candidates for the position of president. At best we would get vice-presidents or deans of financially struggling community colleges. The prospect of hiring a president with experience was too low to chance. West Valley is now seeking another round of applicants and starting their recruitment process over again. Our board meetings are the second Tuesday of each month at 7 p.m. at the main Gilroy campus. We welcome anyone who would like to attend and become more knowledgeable about Dr. Kinsella’s contract, and Gavilan’s budget is available for anyone who would like to review them.
Laura A. Perry, president, Gavilan College Board of Trustees

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