•CBC will ensure that every student gets a degree on time.
•College staffing will match enrollment.
•Programs and positions will be continually evaluated.
•Initiatives to better serve the community will be researched.
•The facility will be on its way to financial viability.
Espinoza presented her aims in a 2 1/2-hour report at a special meeting in the Gallery Room at the Beeville County Club May 31 — where trustees also tackled budgets for this year and 2014 and the need for a new telephone system for the Beeville campus.
The first on her list — contained in a 14-page document given to trustees 12 days after warning that additional staff and faculty layoffs could be expected — is student success.
Espinoza began with stressing the need to revise the student catalog. “It’s in bits and pieces. It needs to be user friendly.”
By next year, she said, the syllabi of every course should be available online along with a complete explanation of fees.
Equally important, she said, is increased communication with the students aimed at establishing a student-driven schedule and ensuring that students know their status in a given class.
“Some students have gone through their entire course and not known if they are passing,” Espinoza said.
By next year, not only would students know their scholastic standing, but an early alert program would send students at risk of failing a class to a case management program for tutoring.
“You need that engagement,” Espinoza said. “They want to be treated like family. And, it keeps them here.”
Concurrent with student success, Board Chairman Paul Jaure suggested that the faculty should be expected to teach five days a week.
Currently, instructors teach four days a week with the fifth day expected to be used for administrative tasks.
“Right now,” Espinoza said, “it’s just a day off.”
Implementing the switch, Espinoza said, would take more than a year.
Board Vice Chairman Carroll Lohse questioned if a five-day schedule would punish students “because faculty members weren’t doing their job.”
Although the board took no action on the suggestion, Trustee Laura Fischer asked Espinoza to gather the pros and cons of the idea to be presented at the June 24 board meeting so that the board could decide “sometime this summer.”
That the average class size is 18,” Espinoza said, “is hurting us significantly.”
By 2014, she hopes to raise that to 25. “We could say 35, and it would be reasonable,” she said. “It’s a mindset change.”
With accusations from instructors already laid off that they were dismissed without explanation, Espinoza outlined a five-step process for making the decision who goes and who stays. The idea, she said, was not to renew contracts “that cost the college more than it makes.”
“First-level personnel changes will be based on increasing on efficiency at the operational level and on realignment of job descriptions,” she told the board.
“Second-level changes will be based on attrition; third-level changes will be based on student need, such as the disparity between the number of students and faculty teaching a course; and fourth-level changes will be based on evaluations.”
Her 2014 budget addresses an almost $2 million deficit by requiring the college to contribute $1.5 million for the next three years to re-establish a fund balance of $5.4 million.
Trustees closely scrutinized the remaining pages devoted to more than 30 suggestions on cutting expenses, including:
•Cancellation of summer classes with fewer than 10 students; 12-month courses exempt.
•Consolidating Beeville classes within certain buildings to conserve electricity.
“Last summer we had less than 100 students on campus, but everything open, with the air conditioning going,” she said.
•Encouraging vacations be taken in June, July and early August.
•Marketing for scholarships.
“Every year, we have scholarships that go unused or get delivered way too late.”
Espinoza said “someone has been assigned” to address more than 30 cost-saving measures, ranging from the purchase of school supplies to contracts with utilities, to utilizing free communications outlets.
Espinoza related a conversation with KTKO Program Director Daniel (“Big Dan”) Adamez, in which he told Espinoza, “I’ve been reading the paper. If you want to tell the whole story, you can come any time you want to be on the show for free air time. You’ll get to tell what you want.”
Countering reports of low faculty morale, Espinoza said that she was hearing both sides and was encouraged by some who have told her they were excited about her changes and the opportunities they mean for professional growth.
“We have an employee culture that, in one sense of the word, is spoiled. ‘What is CBC doing for me’ vs. ‘What am I doing as an employee of CBC to serve students,’” she said. “I don’t have a magic bullet for that.”
“What I’m hearing from the community is that they understand what we’re trying to do,” Fischer said. “To right-size a budget that is way out of control, one way, somebody is going to lose.”
“And all of these changes,” Jaure added, “will make the school so much better.”
Bill Clough is a reporter at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 122, or at beepic@mySouTex.com.