College Update – March 2013

A special message from Dr. Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

Dear College Community,

Here are a few items by way of update:

1. Legislature – The Florida Legislature convened for its annual 60-day session about a week ago, and a number of interesting issues are already on the table. Dr. Bill Mullowney will be sharing detailed legislative updates, as will the Association of Florida Colleges (AFC), as the session progresses. I wanted to comment on just a couple of matters. It is too early to have any real signals on the budget. There are funds available to the state, as the economy continues its slow recovery, and I expect the Florida College System to receive an increased allocation – how much is anyone’s guess at this point. We are unlikely to know this until sometime in late April – just in time to plan our own budget for the coming year. We’ll need a decent allocation from the state to accommodate some unusual costs, such as “catch up” contributions to the Florida Retirement System and the costs of complying with the Affordable Care Act. Other priorities we hope to address, if funding is available, include a modest raise, a small number of additional faculty and staff, some security enhancements, increased support to adjunct faculty, and continuing to nourish our best work in support of student learning and success.

On other issues, the Florida Senate is considering a bill that could have very significant, perhaps very negative, consequences for developmental education in Florida, effectively eliminating stand-alone developmental courses in favor of some other model of “embedded remediation.” The House has a competing bill that moves in the opposite direction, giving colleges much more flexibility in meeting the needs of developmental students. This bill also restores the 36 hour common core. We will be supporting the House Bill in every way we can.

2. Affordable Care Act – The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act begins to have real consequences for all organizations this year. Among other things, it requires employers to provide health care insurance to employees who average 30 or more hours per week during the measurement period scheduled for later this year. Valencia employs many part-time staff whose scheduled hours are close to 30 hours per week. We are discussing how to manage the demands of the act – a combination of expanding our benefits (and hours) to some employees and managing more closely the hours of others. The IRS still hasn’t given much direction on how to do this, especially for adjunct faculty. We will share what we know and any decisions that are made as timely as possible. The cost of this could be quite considerable, competing with other priorities, but we will do the best we can for every employee.

3. Dr. Stanley Stone to retire – After 34 years of service to Valencia, Dr. Stone, our vice president of human resources and diversity, recently announced his retirement. We receive the news with mixed feelings – sorry to see him go, but grateful for his service and for the opportunity he has earned to give more to his family. We will schedule a time to bid our friend adieu very shortly. Meanwhile, I am appointing Dr. Amy Bosley to serve as interim vice president, effective immediately. A search for the vice president will commence in a few weeks.

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