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BCC requests exemption from Fifty Percent Law

SENIOR STAFF WRITER

BARSTOW • Barstow Community College’s Board of Trustees unanimously voted Wednesday night to request an exemption from a state mandate requiring them to spend at least half of their current education expense on salaries of classroom instructors.

The exemption from the Fifty Percent Law, or Education Code Section 84362, would apply to the current school year only.

The request comes after BCC spent $101,000 less than the required 50 percent on instructor salaries last school year, according to Virgil Stanford, the college’s vice president of Administrative Services.

If the request is not approved, BCC will have to essentially put that $101,000 back into its budget to compensate, Stanford said.

That figure represents less than 1 percent of its overall budget, he added.

Concerns over whether voters would approve a tax increase to prevent funding cuts to the state’s education budget last year — better known as Proposition 30 — caused the college to stray from filling two faculty positions, he said.

The college stood to lose approximately $800,000 had Prop 30 not passed, according to Stanford.

Those two faculty positions, which at the time would have put BCC above the 50-percent threshold, have since been filled, he said.

The Fifty Percent Law includes teachers and instructional aides, he said, meaning that salaries for librarians, counselors, student advisors and financial aid officers do not contribute to the fifty-percent standard.

Stanford agreed that filling a need elsewhere could cause pressure to then also hire another faculty member just to stay compliant with the law.

“Student’s learning is impacted by other factors than just teaching and those deserve some credit,” Stanford said. “(The law) affects hiring because you’ve got to keep that balance. It’s fully our intention to meet the 50 Percent Law every year. In my opinion, this was an aberration and we will be back on track.”

BCC spokeswoman Maureen Stokes said this was the first time the college had applied for such an exemption in her seven years there.

The request goes to the state community college Board of Governors in March.

Shea Johnson may be reached at (760) 256-4126 or at SJohnson@DesertDispatch.com.


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