Spring break is usually a time for college students to hit the beaches, drink to excess and embarrass their parents by appearing in Girls Gone Wild videos. For teachers it's a week without classes to kick back, grade midterms, plan for the end of the school year and relax. Usually. But at the College of Santa Fe this year's spring break brings nothing but more stress to students and faculty.
Last Friday, March 13, CSF faculty received the first of six paychecks that include the 12 percent pay cut they were forced to take in order for the school to remain functional through the end of the semester. And, while 12 percent doesn't sound too devastating it's 12 percent of their total salaries compounded into a few short months.
Faculty contracts pay some teachers on a 9 month basis and some on a 12 month basis. "The pay cuts are not actually retroactive, though the math employed in determining the amount of the cut took into account our entire salary as opposed to our salary going forward. The was done in order to deal in an "equitable" fashion with those who are on a 12 month pay out and those who are on a 9 month pay out" CSF professor Deborah Fort tells SFR in an email.
Also, all professors, regardless of whether they are on a 9 or 12 month contract have had their remaining payments split in half to include six regular payments (which includes the payment made last Friday) and one lump sum payment at the end of the semester.
According to professor and faculty council representative Peter Blackman the average salary for a CSF professor is roughly $64,000 per year (though the range is about $55,000-$75,00). At this rate a professor on a 9 month contract would normally be paid approximately $3,555 before taxes and health insurance deductions. Under his original salary that professor would have approximately $16,000 remaining to be paid. Under the 12 percent cut he can expect approximately $8,320--$4,160 over six pay periods and $4,160 as a lump sum. That's a pretax and insurance take home pay every two weeks of $693.
That's $8.66 an hour at 40 hours a week, approximately $1 less than Santa Fe's living wage.
The lump sum payment at the end of the semester is also, according to Fort "'if' they have the money. No one on the faculty side is too confident that the "if" will turn affirmative."
According to Blackman the Faculty Council urged the board to put the money for the lump sum payments into an escrow account in order to ensure faculty they would be paid but that those efforts proved futile.
After the first paychecks under the new cuts were received by faculty on Friday the Faculty Council passed out a survey to faculty members to "figure out how people are going to survive."
Both Fort and Blackman stressed that, according to Fort, "faculty are completely committed to finishing the semester and supporting our students." But, according to Fort, "it becomes a bit difficult, however, when you are also trying to figure out how to feed your family."
In addition to the stress of watching their teachers struggle to survive the CSF community still has no definitive answers as to whether the school will exist in any form after May. The House passed HB 577, which would allow for the state to acquire CSF and make it part of an existing state school, and the bill is currently waiting for Senate approval. But, the Senate Finance Committee, which is HB 577's next stop, slashed HB 2
, the General Appropriations Act, effectively cutting the funding upon which HB 577 relies.
This, however, doesn't mean that HB 577 is dead in the water. According to the Finance Committee office the bill will go before the committee sometime this week (the session ends March 21). The Finance Committee can still approve the bill and send it to the Senate floor for a full vote without the budget approval and at that time, if it passes both votes the House and Senate's joint conference committee will meet to discuss the differing budgets involved with the changes to HB 2.