Thursday, November 26 , 2015, 8:05 am | Fair 45º

With Three Newcomers, SBCC Trustees Begin Transition

Members of the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustess, both old and new, meet together for the first time Thursday.
Members of the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustess, both old and new, meet together for the first time Thursday.  (Gabriella Slabiak / Noozhawk photo)

By Gabriella Slabiak, Noozhawk Intern | @NoozhawkNews |

With three new members joining four incumbents, the Santa Barbara City College Board of Trustees seems poised to embark on a major transition.

At a meeting Thursday, members of SBCC’s governing board discussed matters ranging from board structure to priorities, with topics including possibly reorganizing board committees, electing a new board president and engaging the community.

The three new members elected Nov. 6 — Veronica Gallardo, Marianne Kugler and Craig Nielsen — attended the meeting, but will have to wait until next Thursday to be sworn in.

“There has been a lot going on,” trustee Marsha Croninger noted.

A key topic was a mission statement for the board and SBCC.

“We will either reaffirm our existing mission statement, although I suspect we will completely revise it,” Superintendent/President Lori Gaskin said.

The board has been working on revising its policies since SBCC was put on notice by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges earlier this year.

The policies were brought up again when uncertainty arose about how the board could reach out to the community more without overstepping its boundaries.

“I’d like people to know about (the meetings) and be able to come,” Croninger said. “The thing that is going to be hardest, from my point of view, is policies we don’t have.”

Trustee Lisa Macker suggested having more gatherings like the recent forums regarding SBCC’s Center for Continuing Learning, in order to better involve the community, and increasing cooperation with other local school boards.

She also suggested adding two more board committees, one to focus specifically on infrastructure, and the other on the budget and finance of the college.

The board liked the idea.

Current committees, which are subgroups of the board with three trustees each and focusing on a specific college division, include fiscal, facilities, educational policies and community relations.

Trustee Marty Blum proposed a rotation of seats, expressing her desire to become the board president. Current president Peter Haslund agreed.

“For right now, I have time next year, and I want to become more active at the state level, too — on community college league,” Blum told Noozhawk. “I think every president ... leaves their mark on it. I can’t tell you what mine will be yet ... there will be some things that happen. It’s the nature of new president.”

Macker, the current vice president, said she’s interested in continuing in that role.

The board will vote for a new president and vice president at its next meeting.

Also, the members will be trained on the Brown Act, California’s open-meeting law, and board ethics.

“This law derives from a time when major decisions were made in smoke-filled rooms where the doors were always closed to the public,” Haslund said in an an agenda attachment for the meeting. “This act is in the public interest and I take it seriously.”.

Noozhawk intern Gabriella Slabiak can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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» on 12.07.12 @ 12:12 PM

It’s hard to believe that there has been such a complete turnover in the SBCC Board after all those years with the old board members. 

I hope this new group of trustees can be as successful in continuing the SBCC tradition of excellence.

» on 12.07.12 @ 02:15 PM

A board turnover is not hard to believe when someone qualified stands for election and gives the voters an actual choice instead of the incumbent just sliding in many times without even appearing on the ballot.

» on 12.07.12 @ 03:14 PM

Voters sent SBCC a powerful message in 2010 electing a slate of four new trustees (Blum, Croninger, Haslund, Macker) which acted as a four-vote voting majority block controlling the college agenda ever since.

Unfortunately, the 2010 new SBCC board majority election change also brought the first every college accreditation Warning for multiple documented incidents of new board member misconduct.  The recent campus survey conducted in response to this accreditation warning indicates there remains strongly held campus opinion new board member violations continue.

Along with this 2010 voter-approved change at SBCC came the new board majority’s power after the 2010 census to redistrict college trustee areas, insuring two additional sitting SBCC incumbents would no longer be able run for re-election when their terms expired this year. (Livingston/Jurkowitz)

This left only one remaining long-term incumbent (Villegas) who chose not to run for re-election this year, thereby creating this entirely new SBCC board of trustees in 2012. The new board now has a collective 8 years of SBCC board experience, fully replacing the former SBCC board with its cumulative 150 years plus of board experience along with accreditation honors.

Voters asked for change at SBCC in 2010 and change is what they got.

The 2014 SBCC elections will either validate these changes to SBCC or re-direct the college yet again, when voters will have the opportunity to create another new board majority at SBCC.

Yes, SBCC has long had a tradition of excellence. I too hope this tradition continues as it runs deep within the college culture, its long-serving staff, faculty and for the students who have long benefited from this remarkable institution.

I salute the three new SBCC board members and cherish my own 19 years as a SBCC board member. I thank the voters for giving me this opportunity to serve SBCC and the community for so long.

» on 12.07.12 @ 04:29 PM

Hopefully, the three new trustees will set an example of professional, informed, in-private leadership for the benefit of City College and its students, faculty, staff.

The four they will be joining ran as a partisan political slate, making sundry
ludicrous allegations in their campaigns, that often proved to be totally wrong.

Their inability to distinguish between a board’s role, and micro-managing their
executives and College staff toward their own pet peeves, was pretty sad to see.

Their early penchant for publicly popping off to the news media, then circling back to do actual research afterward, after everyone was in an uproar, was pretty unprofessional.

A strong case could probably be made that no one, in the early days of the
lengthy recession, trustee or executive, could have made much difference in
the face of the State revenue empty elevator shaft, or their on-high ruling to
stop funding most local Adult Ed courses.

But all the finger-pointing and public griping locally certainly added lots of
unnecessary stress to an already serious problem.

Here’s hoping the new kids on the block will work better, or at least more serenely.

» on 12.07.12 @ 05:20 PM


“Marty Blum proposed a rotation of seats, expressing her desire to become the board president.”  Anyone following the proceedings that have hammered SBCC saw this one coming. 

Notice the proven operations that produced award winning education and praise is now being co-opted by the “consensus” of group forums.  *Chuckle*  This was the same operation Blum used to bury any opposition to her failed programs that eventually led to massive deficit government exposed with the recession.

Wonder if the new four have a backbone to resist these people or are they the clones of failed feel good governance?

Time will tell.

» on 12.07.12 @ 06:16 PM

I regret misinfomation continues to be presented anonymously regarding SBCC. Much of this misinformation can be easily rebutted in a search of the public record.  This level of continued misinformation about the college is what SBCC needs to guard against if it is to continue its former reputation for institutional integrity, openness and honesty. Differing opinions are appropriate; but differing facts are not.

Facts: There are only three new board members seated in 2012; not four new board members. Four board members constitute a majority on this 7 person board.

Facts: The 2010 Blum-Croniger-Haslund Macker coalition continues its four member board majority status and have voted as an unbroken block on virtually every single issue before the college since their election.

My recollection is there was only a momentary defection when Blum did not vote for Haslund to serve a second term as board president in 2011 on the first ballot, but then voted again on the second ballot along with the four member slate to seat Haslund for his second term as board President. (Board minutes for 12/11 regular board meeting.)

Facts: Two out of the three new 2012 SBCC trustees “slid by” without out their names appearing on the 2012 ballot, since they had no opposition. Downtown Goleta (Kugler) and Downtown SB trustee (Gallardo) districts both had no opposition and consequently did not appear before the voters in their respective districts.

Facts: Only one new board member of the three new trustees stood for election in the Goleta/unicorporated county district he now represents: Craig Neilson.

Facts: All former trustees, except Jurkowitz, (6 out of 7) faced contested elections during their period of service to SBCC. I faced two contested elections myself (1994 and 2004). It was a myth perpetrated during the 2010 board campaign and now repeated even today that there were no prior contested SBCC elections and that all former incumbent board members had been “appointed by a secret “old boys network”. Not true.

Facts: Jurowitz was appointed after a publicly noticed call for applications due to mid-term retirement of long standing-board member and college philanthropist Eli Luria, due to health reasons. I was appointed after a publicly noticed call for applications after the mid-term death of a long-standing original board member in 1993, and immediately stood for contested election the following year in 1994 and again in 2004.

Facts: O’Neil unseated a SBCC trustee incumbent in 1994 in a contested election. Dobbs and Alexander faced several contested elections during their long tenures. Green was elected in 2008,  but faced no opposition in her Carpinteria SBCC trustee area.

Facts: College board policy now requires a board president does not succeed him or herself for more than two terms. Board policy is always subject to change, but only after a properly noticed public action and vote per board policy.  Haslund has served two successive terms. Current board policy requires another board member to now stand for this position.

Facts: Board of Trustees policy currently operational may be found on the SBCC website under “College Departments - Board of Trustees”.

» on 12.07.12 @ 08:31 PM

The board members elected 4 years ago have not fulfilled any of their promises:  more transparency, reduce adult ed fees,  better commuications with the public, reduce overall cost without reducing the reserves.  I submit that none of these things have been done, in fact they are in a worse possition than they were 10 years ago.

» on 12.07.12 @ 09:07 PM

The 2010 Blum-Croninger-Haslund-Macker slate supporters clearly wanted to get rid of Dr Serban. I heard this directly from many of them. They had already picked out her alleged successor. So for approximately a million dollars in additional expenses to the college, in short order and under the cover of darkness at 4am in the morning the four new board members did accomplish that.

The new board and college President will need these additional meetings and sub-committees because for the first time in the college’s long history there are no experienced trustees serving on the SBCC board. They all now face a very steep learning curve about the breadth of college operations.

Long service, board stability, executive leadership and employee longevity had always set SBCC apart and made it the envy of other colleges up and down this state. With this radical recent change and 100% board/CEO reset button to this current blank slate, SBCC has made itself again unique in the state.

As I know you are well aware Dr Dobbs, with yourself being one of the enviable longer serving trustees in the state of California and past President of the Community College League of California. Good to have your voice in the community dialogue again to help protect the integrity and future of SBCC. 

Facts and openness will serve SBCC far better than the anonymous slurs and character assassinations that marked the 2010 SBCC trustee campaign.

» on 12.08.12 @ 02:17 AM

Joan, even though you will no longer serve on the board, I hope you will speak out about the issues confronting the college and the administration/board’s performance going forward.

I don’t believe I have heard you give your opinion on the new president/superintendent of SBCC. Can you share with us your impressions of her and whether she has the backbone to act independently (or at least influence), if necessary, of the board’s majority?

Thank you for your service.

» on 12.08.12 @ 01:47 PM

Lou, Dr Gaskin has good professional credentials and significant state-wide experience, but she remains by nature of the job responsive to the elected board of trustees.

Therefore,  the better question is whether voters will re-elect the current four members identified in the accreditation warning (Blum-Croninger-Haslund-Macker) or reject them in 2014. That will determine the future directions for SBCC more than anything.

Now that the 2014 trustee election will be conducted under exclusive trustee district voting, a review of the 2010 precinct voting patterns of these newly formed districts is instructional.

Remember this radical change at SBCC in 2010 was accomplished only after the final provisional vote count put the fourth member Croniger on this new board majority slate in office by a pluraiity of only 125 votes. 

On election night, the former board majority held with the provisional vote count favoring incumbent Des O’Neill, but after the count of approx 8000 last-minute provisional votes the majority swung entirely to the new block of trustees by those coveted last-minute 125 votes.

The Isla Vista vote carried a lot of weight in the 2010 and final district-wide election, which tipped the slim balance in favor of the Final Four new board majority.

The 2010 election also provided the curious phenomenon of Haslund losing every single precinct his Carpinteria and Montectio to incumbent trustee Green, yet still winning by picking them up outside of what is now his exclusive trustee district. Carpinteria/Montecito voters could then hold the key if this 2010 four board majority block was to broken up in 2014.

The new district seats by general and not precise definition up for election in 2014 which could yet again change the direction of SBCC are as follows:

1. Mesa/East Beach(Blum)
2. San Roque-Upper East-Riviera-Mission Canyon (Croninger)
3. Hope Ranch-Isla Vista (Macker)
4. Carpinteria-Montecito (Haslund)

It is not too early to decide if these current trustees representing these areas should be retained or rejected, and potential new candidates to start preparing for this 2014 election now if voters decide change is necessary.

Lou, as the good education policy wonk that you are you might be interested in the following publicly available draft Accreditation Special report which included the annual 2012 SBCC Governance Survey and follow-up comments found a the end of this lengthy document.

The comments section to this annual college governance survey provides a range and flavor of the current campus climate: Accreditation Special Report DRAFT.pdf

» on 12.09.12 @ 03:23 AM

Joan, thank you for the attachment. I read it from cover to cover. All I can say is that the college has a very dysfunctional culture. It is amazing the college has done as well as they have in the past, considering the chaotic environment and the serious problems of governance and policy implementation.

I was struck by this quote from one of the comments:

  “Bottom line: staff members are not even asked to describe what they do, or how things might be done better, let alone being encouraged to be innovative. If employees ask questions or offer creative ideas, to work toward improved programs and procedures, they are most likely ignored. Excellence at this institution is all about putting forward a shiny, bright appearance, when underneath the pep talks, it’s politics as usual…”

Having become familiar with the SB School District, I would say this statement perfectly describes our K-12 schools. The school district is a bureaucracy which expends considerable energy complying with idiotic mandates and mindless rules imposed by a state education department that is for the most part clueless about how to improve academic achievement.

Instead of constantly reassessing current practices to see if they’re working, we continue going down the same road despite the lack of successful outcomes. Risk-taking is frowned upon and the status quo is religiously adhered to because it is less threatening than the unknown. We have what I call a culture of mediocrity in our schools, where innovation, creative thinking and an attitude of excellence and no-excuses are virtually non-existent.

The other major problem we have at the K-12 level is that board positions have become severely politicized. It is almost impossible to be elected unless you receive the endorsement from the dominant political party in the district, and it is no secret that this political party is tied at the hip with the teachers unions. Thus, board members are not independent nor entirely objective, and have agendas not entirely consistent with improving student outcomes.

I was heartened to have received the votes of 22,000 residents, but was saddened not to have the opportunity to change the culture and to encourage the innovation and the implementation of successful instructional practices already working at other schools around the country, as well making the necessary changes to improve academic achievement for all students.

Sometimes, we adults forget that our only purpose is to ensure that all students have the requisite academic and/or vocational skills to prepare them for life after school. All too often, we forget this simple but critical mission, which sadly gets pushed aside because of extraneous issues that consume the adults in charge.

Joan, I hope you will continue to stay involved and speak out about what is happening at the college, as your in-depth knowledge and understanding of the governance practices of SBCC should not be wasted. Our community will suffer grievously if the current problems at SBCC continue and its educational mission is compromised. Again, thank you for your service; there are many who have benefited from the college that are indebted to your many years of service to SBCC.

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