A.S. passes 2014-2015 budget and discusses new agenda

At the third A.S. meeting of the school year on Monday, September 15th, the new board adopted the 2014-2015 budget after tabling the issue twice at two previous meetings and changing the fiscal policy language. A candidate for the position of A.S. Vice President stepped forward, and concerns for the Cayton center were discussed. In the first meeting of the year, on September 3, the board attempted to adopt the budget presented by Director of Auxiliary Services, George Prather. The board added and crossed out line items, and redistributed funds. The added line items such as the Organic Learning Garden were originally proposed by last year’s A.S. board and had been approved, according to previous A.S. president Ty Moura.

The board negotiated adopting the budget after moving funds around and approving specific expenses. In particular, the board wanted to move $50,000 from the contingency line item into two new line items ($25,000 to support the Organic Learning Garden and $25,000 for consulting). Additionally, the A.S. Board wanted to move half of the money from the Public Relations/President's line items) into the New Technology and Student Success line item to expand scholarships for A.S. members.

Prather informed them, however, that the board had to adopt the budget as a whole and the new line items they wanted to create are not line items but rather object codes. These line items could therefore, not be added to the budget per the California Accounting Manual.

Associate Dean of Student Life, Sonali Bridges suggested the board should review the current fiscal policy to change the language regarding these line items at the next Finance meeting. Then they could come back with an accurate policy that did not need to be suspended in order for the overall A.S. budget to be approved.

Though Khan made an attempt to adopt the budget as it was, the item was tabled and moved to the second meeting. In the mean time, the board was left unable to access funds from the budget to begin approving student activities and other expenditures.

Following a meeting with the Finance Committee last Thursday, September 11, the board made several amendments to the Fiscal Policy that were more in line with this current board's values. Specifically, they removed the Organic Learning Garden as a line item and included it under the Sustainability line item.

After making motions to fix a spelling error and fine-tune proposal submission rules, the board adopted the new fiscal policy, thus allowing them to adopt the budget in total.

The budget was unanimously adopted and a swift slam of the gavel began this year’s budget spending.

A recurring issue at the board meetings is the discussion of the Associated Students becoming an auxiliary organization. According to the California Education Code, section 72670, an auxiliary board is organized for the “purpose of providing supportive services and specialized programs for the general benefit of its college or colleges.” Dean Bridges explained to the A.S. board that the SMC Board of Trustees does not currently recognize A.S. as an auxiliary organization, but as a student organization pursuant to CA Ed Code 76060.

The board voted to table the issue and ask other community colleges about the positive and negative effects of becoming an auxiliary board. At Monday’s meeting, the board voted to table the issue indefinitely.

Also, mentioned at this Monday’s meeting was the announcement by Trae Smith, C.E.O. of Generations of the Future, that he would be running for Vice President. In his detailed and swift 2 minute speech, Smith explained his credentials and intentions for the position. He announced that he does not want to make money, but simply wants to help people.

Present at this meeting, and the previous one, was SMCPD Sergeant Mark Kessler, who was asked to supervise weekly meetings due to members on the board feeling unsafe in the presence of former A.S. Director Of Activities Matt Nicholson following comments he made at the Associated Students retreat this summer. He continues to insist that last semester's A.S. elections must be repeated due to what he considers to be his unfair dismissal as a candidate.

Lee Peterson, SMC’s Academic Computing Instructional Specialist, made a public comment concerning Cayton Center issues. He explained that students using the newly installed foosball table in the Cayton center as a prop to keep doors open for the sake of airflow is a fire and safety hazard. He went on to mention that due to the computer lab lacking air conditioning, eighteen computers have recently overheated and engineers are being called in to fix the inner fans.

In response to these comments, Dean Bridges said that doorstops are already being added to doors in the Cayton center and that AC options in the center are being explored.

Director of Instructional Support, Jeffrey Lewis discussed the possibility of an A.S. app, televisions in the Cayton center, and the purchase of wireless speakers for the weekly board meeting, matters that are tabled until proposed to the Financial Committee.

In closing, Dean Bridges congratulated the board on adopting their budget and revising fiscal policy, overcoming the first big hurdle of the year.