Education / Schools

Gavilan College making headway on budget deficit

The school has halved its projected shortfall; board of trustees is weighing more cuts.

The June 22 Gavilan College budget meeting began with the announcement that the school has decreased its projected budget deficit for the next school year from $9.7 million to $4.8 million.

Reductions include trustees taking a 5% pay cut and giving up other benefits; Superintendent/President Kathleen Rose and senior staff declining their 5% salary increases; letting some open positions remain unfilled in the coming year; and discounting Gavilan’s lease with Morgan Hill for its campus there. Paid for with Measure E funds, the Coyote Valley Campus has been losing money and the district will be working on a joint powers agreement with Santa Clara County Training Academy. 

“New estimates on expected local revenues to the district have further reduced the 2020-21 projected deficit to $4.5 million,” said Jan Bernstein Chargin, director of public information. “This will continue to go down, as the college is studying further reductions and will be bringing additional proposals to the board in the coming months.”

Despite significant progress in trimming its budget, trustees remained concerned at the June 22 meeting.

“The situation is very dire right now,” said trustee Jeanie Wallace. Referring to the current deficit, board President Rachel Perez said, “We need to bring it down.” 

Several options were put forward to reduce the deficit. Vice President of Administrative Services Michael Renzi suggested trans loans, similar to payday loans, an idea which was met with concern by several trustees.

Another option was to revisit Gavilan’s salaries, as they make up 86% of the total budget. Following cuts to pay raises for senior staff, there was discussion that it might be necessary to cut other staff salaries.

In a public letter to the trustees presented at the June 15 meeting, former Gavilan College president and superintendent Steve Kinsella said, “The solutions are in the 85% salaries and benefits. If you bring that down to 80% your money problems will be solved.”

Trustee Laura Perry was against letting staff know salary cuts could be coming because there might be a way to avoid it.

“We should not panic,” she said. “The state always comes through for us.” 

Trustee Irma Gonzalez once again asked Rose to bring in the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team to help put the college into the black. Trustees discussed the merits of producing a five-year budget, but it was decided that because of the large projected deficit that yearly budgets would be a better way to proceed.

Gavilan’s 2020-21 budget is due in September.


Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.