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El Camino College 'Occupy' student group wants administrators to take pay cuts

El Camino College
El Camino College
Michael Juliano/KPCC

A couple dozen students who make up "Occupy El Camino" are working to cut administrator salaries at their community college.

At a Monday night meeting of the El Camino Community College District Board of Trustees, fourth-year student Robert Dewitz presented the following handout to the trustees and requested they consider a "reasonable" 20 percent cut that would match the type of cuts made to course sections and other school services.

In a brief presentation to the trustees Dewitz outlined the group's stance.

"It's only reasonable to consider an equal cut in administrative salary," Dewitz told the trustees. "...We want fair cuts, and so far, the people paying a price for the economic crisis are students and teachers."

A 20 percent cut to administrative salaries would free up about $250,000, Dewitz said. This is newest campaign for the group, that fought to save the school's 2013 winter session from being cut. However, the college still plans to eliminate the winter 2014 session because of steep budget cuts.

Dewitz said that while he understands the school needs to be able to pay for talent, constantly cutting student services is not productive. He questioned why administrators were continuing to receive raises during such tough budget years.

"We call for equal fair cuts, we understand things are going to be cut, but we don’t want it to all be things that affect students and teachers," Dewitz said. "The administration has got the share the load."

Here's video from Dewitz's Monday presentation to the Board of Trustees:

El Camino Community College District trustee Ray Gen listened to Dewitz' presentation Monday night. He said the trustees have agonized over the millions in budget cuts that have forced them to shed more than 20 percent of its course offerings, or roughly 1,100 courses since the 2008-9 school year.

"They show up to our board meetings and say 'you know what’s going on,' and we look back at them with kind of glazed eyes, saying we can’t help it," Gen said. "We’d rather cut off our own arms, but there’s nothing that can be done because the state refuses to pay for it."

Gen said the administrators did not recieve raises but scheduled increases that are called "step and column" increases, which both faculty and administrators have continued to receive as part of their negotiated contracts.

A year ago Gen suggested at a trustees meeting that there be an across-the-board pay freeze and 1, 2, or 3 percent cut. "That was not well met," Gen said.

Any pay freeze or cut would need to be negotiated with the unions before it is brought before the governing board for a vote.

Tami Abdollah can be reached via email and on Twitter (@latams).