College Update: Pay Raises, Leave with Pay, COVID-19 Cases, CARES Act, and Social Justice

Tuesday, June 30, 2020

A Special Message from Sandy Shugart, Valencia College President

You continue to amaze me with the commitment and quality of your work in spite of many challenges. I’m told one cannot communicate too much during a shared crisis, so I have another update for you. Thanks, in advance, for reading it.

District Board of Trustees: Budget Approval and Pay Raises
Last week, the Valencia College District Board of Trustees (Board) met virtually via ZOOM to conduct the business of the College. Nearly two hundred people tuned in, a larger group even than when we meet in person, to see the Board approve a budget for 2020-2021, adopt policy revisions, approve a multi-year capital spending plan, approve the second half of our CARES Act funding plan, and conduct a variety of more routine business matters that typically come up in June. I shared the budget highlights a few weeks ago and nothing has changed. But, I want to confirm to you the actions that effect your compensation.

Your work over the past year has been extraordinary, especially in the most recent four months, and I am pleased to share that the board approved a pay raise for all employees. All tenured and tenure-track faculty will receive one step plus a 1% adjustment to the baseline, and all other staff (except the senior leadership team) will receive a 2.5% raise, effective in August of this year.

We recognize that the work of our part-time faculty colleagues to prepare their classes, engage in welcome-back department meetings and orientation sessions, and complete required compliance trainings happen before the first day of classes, the traditional first day of their contracts. With the approval of the Board, we are raising part-time faculty pay by an additional 2.5% (for a total of a 5% pay raise) and adjusting the contracted dates to begin the date faculty report for the term (according to the academic calendar) and end the day after grades are due. Most clock-hour faculty and our substitution pay rates will also be adjusted by 5%.

We have a strong tradition of stewardship at Valencia, allowing me to affirm to you again that, regardless of what you may read about layoffs and furloughs at other colleges and universities, I do not foresee any at Valencia. And all of this is without an increase in student tuition for the seventh year in a row. I am proud of you all and grateful for the leadership of our budget and finance team.

Leave with Pay
As we transition into our Phase 2 operations and plan for a very robust fall semester, we are updating our leave with pay protocols put in place at the beginning of the pandemic. Beginning Saturday, August 1, 2020, we expect all full-time employees to be engaged in work for the full 40 hours each week. In the event that a full-time employee does not have enough work to reach 40 hours in a given week, they may record leave with pay for the remaining hours. We will, however, be working to reduce leave with pay by introducing a talent sharing program where those colleagues with capacity and time can be matched with departments where additional support is needed. Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more information on this new program.

Also, beginning Saturday, August 1, 2020, part-time employees will be paid for actual hours worked, and leave with pay will no longer be available to make up scheduled, but unworked hours. We welcome the participation of our part-time colleagues in the talent sharing program and look forward to engaging our part-time staff in the critical work of student support and engagement to the fullest extent possible.

COVID-19 Cases
When the health crisis began, we pledged transparency on any positive cases at Valencia. It probably won’t surprise anyone, given the recent surge in positive tests, that we recently recorded two positive cases in our Fire Training Academy (offered at a training site on the Orange Technical College Mid Florida Campus). All protocols are being followed, and for extra care, the program has been suspended for two weeks. We are also tracking four additional suspected, but not yet confirmed cases.

There will be more of these, as we have contemplated in our Roadmap for Reopening plan. To keep you informed, the team that developed the plan will shortly put up a webpage with facts on any and all positive tests affecting Valencia College locations so you can be aware and prepared. We will communicate with you about this webpage via The Juice in the coming week.

CARES Act, Part 2
The first half of Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding was designated for emergency relief to students. As of Wednesday, June 17, 2020, more than 17,000 students certifying adverse impact from the pandemic had received $12.8 million ($750 each). This required a monumental effort, especially in Student Affairs, the grants office and Financial Services. The second half of the funding is designated in the law for “institutional stabilization,” covering costs of converting to online in the Spring term and beyond, lost revenue and technology enhancements. The College is also providing additional emergency funding to students from this pool, all totaling another $12.2 million to date.

Social Justice, Equity and Black Lives Matter
You heard from me, among many others, in the wake of the tragic killing of George Floyd (and many others over the years). Both nationally and in our community, many issues and questions have risen into center-view — accountability and proper community policing, limiting use of force in arrests, bias in the criminal justice system and equal treatment before the law, to name a few. And the conversation has grown to engage a myriad of issues around bias and racism, all of which are worthy of our attention. There is controversy here.There are conversations that will be uncomfortable. There is also opportunity to come together on the common ground of assuring that everyone has an opportunity to flourish. That’s exactly the underlying mission of Valencia College. I’m not sure where all of this is headed, but for us, I’d like to see thoughtful inquiry and action.

Are there policies and practices at Valencia that disadvantage people we are meant to serve? Are there barriers that prevent people from rising on the strengths of their gifts and characters? Are there unexamined challenges in curriculum, in pedagogy, in advising and other services that undermine our attempts to make opportunity real for everyone? Do all of our students and contributing team members feel the sense of belonging we desire for them? And is Valencia a bystander or an active participant in removing the vestiges of racism in a society that will always require reform and reforming institutions?

I am not afraid of these questions. I know you will join me in facing them in some concrete ways in the weeks and months and years to come. Please watch for the opportunities to come together around creating a more loving, just and flourishing life for all of Valencia and our community.

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” – James Baldwin


Sandy Shugart
Valencia College President

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