Maxima mea culpa due from Gavilan College trustees

Opinion

1. Situational management leads to whopping raise for president

It’s time for the Gavilan College Board of Trustees to lower the bar, not for students or academics, but for the salary of the college president.

There has to be a mechanism permanently in place to derail the situational management that led to the recent preposterous $42,000 per year raise bestowed upon college President Steve Kinsella.

A sour taste from that 6-1 vote lingers in the communities served by the college. Rising fees for students and less class availability exacerbate the issue.

Kinsella has been a good president. But just because he became a finalist for a job at another community college, the trustees should not open up the taxpayer’s wallet.

Gavilan College – about 5,800 students – is a relatively small place. The president should earn a fair salary and be rewarded on merit annually as the college’s finances allow.  

It’s time for trustees to rectify the situation via a maxima mea culpa, admitting the grave error and putting together a new policy that governs the pay for the college president once Kinsella vacates the position.

2. Establish a reasonable formula for setting the base salary

First, the policy should establish a formula for arriving at fair compensation. That formula should take into account the number of students at Gavilan, and be measured  against similar positions.

Once the base salary is established, there should be a rule that forbids pay hikes over a certain percentage.

It’s ludicrous that Kinsella will make more per student than what presidents earn at CSU Bakersfield, Chico, Fresno, Fullerton, Humboldt, Long Beach, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Sonoma and Cal Poly San Luis Obispo.

For the record, only Trustee Tony Ruiz voted against the hefty four-year pay package that will raise Kinsella’s salary to a whopping $276,090 annually by 2015.

It’s worth repeating – because perhaps trustees Kent Child, Laura Perry, Tom Breen, Walt Glines and Mark Dover failed to hear … In the country’s largest public school system in New York City, home to 1.1 million students, Chancellor Dennis Walcott is paid $212,614. In Los Angeles Unified School District – the second largest public school district in the nation with 672,000 students – Superintendent John Deasy earns $275,000.

3. Twisted-pretzel justifications have no place in current environment

Gavilan Trustee Breen argued in a recent story that comparing Kinsella’s pay with that of California State University presidents is a case of apples and oranges because smaller institutions like Gavilan impose “far more duties” on a president. Hogwash. More people to manage, more students to be concerned with, more scrutiny to contend with means far more to do.

Twisted-pretzel justifications like that have no place in an environment that is piling on fees for students who are working hard at places like McDonald’s to put themselves through college.

Kinsella has been the president at Gavilan since 2003. Clearly, as an applicant for the West Valley job, he strongly considered moving on to a new challenge.  

“I think this compensation is a piece of a much larger problem that we have in our government,” said Ruiz. “There has to be some room to award an outstanding superintendent, but it can’t be to the point where it’s outrageous.”

That comment is right on the money.

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