Activist community

Pima Community College’s Lee Lambert has board support, for now

Pima Community College chancellor Lee Lambert appears to have the support of a slim majority of the school’s board of trustees, despite an organized effort to oust him from his job.

A group of activists and former board members held a press conference last month to demand Lambert’s firing. Two of the five board members criticized his management.

The college’s Faculty Senate approved (with 28 votes out of a possible 29) a complaint that the administration has retaliated against criticism, public attacks on character, and a dispute resolution process that is tilted against the rank in the file.

The board also gave up its power to discuss a new salary classification system and handed it over to Lambert.

Lambert hired a consultant to update the college’s compensation system, presented those recommendations to the board, which voted on it only in June after moving the public comment period to the end of the meeting so that no one can complain before the yeses are counted.

If that’s how it happened, it’s BS Whyyyyy? If you know you’re doing the right thing, do the right thing and weather the storm.

I know universities can be difficult to govern and community colleges are almost certainly a lighter, if not heavier version of that. Faculty senates may think they have the power to make treaties and declare war (in case the snark doesn’t pass, they don’t).

But Pima is just recovering from being put on secret double probation by a national credentialing board. Everyone has to play nice for the next 60 or 70 years.

On a related topic, the Higher Education Commission, which put CCP in Dutch in 2013, has just released a letter concluding that the college largely addresses concerns from nearly a decade ago.

However, the Chicago-based commission wanted to see further evidence that the board was improving transparency, using internal documents to prepare for meetings, work better with senior management and better engage with the community.

I find it a little odd that the commission is focusing its demands for redress on an elected board and not on issues buried deeper in college functions.

Lambert’s annual performance review shows he is backed by three board members and the name of the game should still count for a simple majority of support.

With an upcoming election, that calculus could change for Lambert.

I just have to say up front that it’s refreshing to see a board of directors or a city council publicly post the opinion of their best dog. The council even revealed its self evaluation.

This is rare, unfortunately because elected leaders tend to treat the performance appraisal of the few employees working directly for them as a confidential personal matter.

Horse Burgers! They report to elected leaders and have enormous responsibilities. The public has a right to know what elected leaders think of their city managers, attorneys and school district superintendents.

In Lambert’s case, the majority of the board feels he needs to work on hiring a more diverse liberal arts workforce and some aren’t thrilled with his knowledge of the community college system or its vision and direction. Lambert said he could do better in his dealings with the board.

It’s interesting. He gave himself a rating of 3.01 on a 5-point scale.

All of this must be judged against the financial reality facing the community college.

School revenues are down more than 10% from 10 years ago. These are absolute dollars. In real inflation-adjusted dollars, the college is working with 30% less cash than ten years ago.

CCP The 2022-2023 budget plans to spend $179 million. During the year ending June 2013, the institution spent $196 million. For a landmark, the The University of Arizona currently manages a budget of $2.3 billion. In 2012-2013, the four-year school spent $1.7 billion.

PCC’s job should be to provide members of our community with the skills they need to compete in the global marketplace and provide a low-cost option in a low-wage city to the first two years of a bachelor’s degree.

At the very least, Pima is where every county resident should be able to go to make sure they don’t get left behind in an ever-changing economy. At best, the school should help us to increase our skills to demand higher wages.

So of course, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey canceled the state’s contribution to the Pima and Maricopa community colleges.

If I were to speculate with a conspiratorial eye, I might suggest that the state likes to sell workers as dark-age serfs. The last thing low-tax states want is for their workforce to be made up of artisans and tradesmen demanding higher wages for higher skills.

I am bringing the money because the Pima Community College Board will also approve their monthly report financial report.

The wells are flowing

The only other public meeting this week will be when the Flowing Wells Unified School District Board of Trustees meet on Tuesday.

They’ve been busy lately so the agenda is light.

The board will reset its annual performance pay increases with state money voters approved for such things.

Each district is a little different, but most focus on teacher professional development as well as student success. The council is not considering a rewrite of its policy, however. Flowing Wells Schools will be making changes to their policy that involve non-academics for each school site.

The board will also make some changes to policy changes on a few policies related to vaccination requirements now that the state has prohibited COVID vaccine requirements.

Their first attempt at change created a conflict with the way the district asked school health workers to do their jobs. The revised policy will reconcile the two.