As we approach the end of another calendar year, I want to take a moment to thank all of you, our faculty, classified staff, managers, and administrators for your tireless dedication to our students during this fall semester. Whether it's helping students through the enrollment process, advising them on their academic paths, keeping our campuses clean, ensuring our safety, processing paperwork (such as paychecks), or transforming lives inside the classroom, you each play a vital role in the success of our students. Many thanks for all you do.
As we look ahead to the New Year, I want to briefly update you on our negotiations with FARSCCD and also share with you three top priorities for our District in 2017.
Last week FARSCCD filed an Unfair Labor Practice Charge against the District with the Public Employment Relations Board alleging that the District has not been bargaining in good faith. The District disagrees with FARSCCD's claims. Every effort has been made to bargain in good faith and to reach a final contract settlement. The District presented a Last, Best, and Final Offer to FARSCCD on June 29, 2016 in an effort to conclude negotiations for the 2015/2016 academic year. Rather than implementing the Last, Best, and Final Offer, the District, instead, continued to meet with FARSCCD, and offered the union additional Negotiation Concepts on August 2, 2016 and again on October 28, 2016, in a continuing effort to reach a Tentative Agreement. The District is meeting with the FARSCCD negotiating team again on December 9, 2016, to receive FARSCCD's response to the last Negotiation Concept that was provided to FARSCCD on October 28, 2016. The District is committed to working with FARSCCD to resolve these negotiations as soon as possible.
In 2017 declining enrollment will continue to be a challenge for community colleges throughout the nation. The reasons for the decline vary from changing demographics, an improving economy and, frankly, not always offering the classes and/or training required by current or potential students. If we are to sustain and increase enrollment we need to consistently have our finger on the pulse of the classes and services our students truly need and the training the industry in our community requires. I applaud our college presidents, faculty and staff for the work that has been accomplished in developing and revising enrollment management plans, meeting with principals and counselors, and continuing to reach out to the community. However, more work needs to be done. As we welcome a new year, I will continue to work with both colleges as, together, we look at both internal and external strategies to sustain and increase enrollment and provide the education being sought by a changing student population.
Alternative Revenue Sources
As costs for operating our college district continue to rise and revenue continues to decline, we need to be more efficient in how we operate and also seek to generate revenue from other sources. As a community college district we are somewhat limited in the ways we can generate additional revenue so we must, as we tell our students, think broadly, creatively and entrepreneurially. In 2017 we will continue to seek opportunities in three main areas: (1) recruitment of international students; (2) training for local business and industry; and (3) strategic international partnerships. Increasing the number of international students on our campuses, especially in times of stagnant enrollment, will not impact access by our local students, will bring much needed revenue that can help fill the gaps in our budget and be re-invested on our campuses. In terms of training, our local businesses and industry continuously need training for their employees whether due to retirements, changing demographics or certifications required in their industries. We need to do a better job of making sure our local businesses and industry are aware of the training we can provide. Finally, as countries around the world seek to bring U.S. based education and training to their educational institutions and industry, we will continue to look for opportunities to partner with organizations and other educational institutions to provide such education and training. I look forward to working with both colleges on these opportunities.
Finally, in 2017, you will continue to see an increase in internal and external communication. More than ever, it is critically important to increase the communication with one another and truly listen to the needs and ideas of our students, faculty, staff and community stakeholders. I look forward to these conversations.
I wish all of you a restful and joyous holiday break as you spend quality time with friends and family.