Board of Trustees approves early retirement incentive among other business


Mark Fernquest

Tuesday’s board meeting on SRJC’s Petaluma campus where MEChA again requested the administration approve a $3-an-hour raise to student-workers’ wages.

Mark Fernquest and Luke W. Morrow, Staff Writers

The Santa Rosa Junior College Board of Trustees unanimously approved Tuesday an early retirement incentive (ERI) in an attempt to trim and balance the school’s budget in the coming year. The decision, deemed controversial by many students and faculty, was met with little fanfare by those in attendance.

The ERI could potentially save SRJC millions of dollars per year by allowing faculty, classified employees and managers over the age of 55 and with five or more years of SRJC employment to receive 80 percent of their salary, paid as a pension-type payout, as incentive for early retirement.

Sandra Sigala, the service employees international union (SEIU) SRJC chapter president, voiced the district workers’ concerns. “While the ERI is a positive move to deal with the budget dilemma the district faces,” she said, “the perceived workload brings to those who are to remain great stress, as the future plan of the district is not known.”

Additional agenda items included:

Student trustee Robert Martinez read aloud a letter written by MEChA de SRJC to SRJC President Dr. Frank Chong, reiterating its December 2018 request for consideration of a $3-an-hour pay raise for all student employees and for the possibility of financial aid for part-time students.

The letter invited Dr. Chong to attend the MEChA meeting at 5 p.m. Feb. 25 in Bailey Hall Room 4643 to discuss the fiscal impact these changes would have on the SRJC budget.

Petaluma campus faculty introduced the Our House Intercultural Center to the board. Amanda Morrison, coordinator of the 4-year-old center, attributed the center’s ongoing popularity to its comfortable “living room” layout, its incorporation of various student support services and its busy calendar of cultural events.

The Board Finance Committee announced the Burbank Theater renovation is on target for completion July 29.

Matthew Long, dean of student services at the Petaluma campus, recognized Maria Banachowicz as Employee of the Month for February 2019. He said she is the “champion of planning and thinking ahead”; he presented her with flowers and a plaque.