The Citrus College Board of Trustees has approved the extension of Superintendent/President Geraldine Perri’s contract an extra year through 2020. The one year extension comes at the dismay of the classified staff at Citrus.
With the decision to extend Perri’s contract, the division between administration and classified staff continues to grow further apart.
The long standing battle between administration and classified staff has been carried on by the lack of reasonable pay increases to match the rising cost of living in the region as well as the growing concern of understaffed departments across campus.
The California Community College Chancellor’s Office annually release salaries by district. 2015 data shows the average salary for Citrus College classified staff ranks below the state average at 44 of the 71 districts, while Citrus Administration ranks as one of the highest at 8 of the 71.
The 243 classified staff members at Citrus College are represented by the California School Employee Association.
Cathy Day, secretary Arts and Language department and public relations officer for the Citrus chapter of CSEA has been a classified employee since 2000.
Day said she questions if it is in the best interest of Citrus to extend the Superintendent through 2020 while classified staff needs are not being met.
Day also said she has asked for transparency to the reasoning for the extension but the request has fallen on deaf ears.
A spokesperson for Superintendent/President Geraldine Perri stated that personnel matters are not discussed publicly.
Human Resources Technician Kai Wattre-Jackson, who also serves as 1st Vice President on the CSEA board, wrote a letter that was read on her behalf to the Board of Trustees at the Sept. 6 meeting that voiced her concerns for the superintendent’s contract extension.
It stated, “Every decision made at Citrus starts and ends at the top. A leader raises up more leaders and does not pigeon-hole them into jobs of frustration.” Wattre-Jackson wrote. “I cannot support a one-year extension on the contract.”
Wattre-Jackson had every intention of reading the letter herself but the 4:15 p.m. Citrus College Board of Trustees meetings don’t fit in her schedule.
“We aren’t given release to attend the meetings that occur during normal work hours,” Wattre-Jackson said.
Wattre-Jackson also said that members of faculty, classified staff, members of the community cannot attend board of trustees meeting because of the odd, typical work hours meeting times.
Understaffed departments are also creating frustration of current classified staff who are having to cover the holes that have been left by unfilled vacancies.
“There are a whole bunch of cogs in this wheel,” Day said concerned on the focus of one person’s contract extension.
The negative reaction to Perri’s extension approved by the board of trustees has now been publicly documented through the letter written by Wattre-Jackson and delivered verbally at the September 6 meeting.
“Morale is low…staff turnover is higher than ever,” Wattre-Jackson said. “Citrus used to be a place where people would stay and retire.”
Voting rights by the Citrus Board of Trustees ultimately hold the key to major decisions including this contract extension.
“We should be able to trust the Board of Trustees to do their jobs, just as they trust us to do ours,” Day said.