As Steve Castellanos traded seats with Teresa Brown, ending his time as president of the Delta College Board of Trustees, he had time to reflect on his first year on the board.
He and the other four new members, who joined the seven-member board one year ago, helped smooth the wrinkles of a critical Grand Jury report and oversaw efforts to ensure the college maintained its accreditation.
During Tuesday's board meeting, Castellanos, who represents the areas around Lodi, ended his run as president and turned the reins over to Brown, the representative for Tracy.
"What I am most proud of is that we established a different conversation," Castellanos said. "I think we have done a lot to restore a lot of confidence. At least, I hope we have in the eyes of the public in what we've done and what we are doing."
The year also saw its fair share of challenges as the state slashed education funding, forcing Delta to trim $8.3 million from its budget. With the demand for community colleges at an all-time high, some of Delta's 22,000 students couldn't sign up for classes because they were full or cut due to lack of funds. Delta eliminated 470 classes, and 80 teaching positions were cut to try and accommodate the funding problems.
On Tuesday, the board continued to hammer through the administration's recommendations on completing Measure L Bond projects, bringing board policy up to code and trying to consolidate some of the college's divisions to save money.
Some items brought good news. A bid for the Cunningham Science and Math building replacement project came in almost $30 million under first estimates. With the state matching funding for the project, the lower bid will end up saving the college $17 million.
However, Delta has yet to see a dime for projects where funding was promised from the state.
For Brown, she knows the board has to take the good with the bad in times like these.
"The biggest challenge is the budget, because with the bond team and everything that has come, we are dedicating buildings, we are opening more buildings. The prospect in the future is that we are going to be cutting a lot more ribbons," said Brown, who along with the rest of the trustees, officially dedicated Delta's South Campus at Mountain House, a controversial satellite campus that drew heat for wasting millons of Measure L Bonds in its early stages, on Dec. 4.
"But the budget will continue to be a challenge and probably more next year than this year because the state isn't going about any way of solving the revenue issue," Brown added. "They continue to have unrealistic revenue projections."
Brown was formerly the board's clerk before being selected as the president for the next year. Janet Rivera will remain the board's vice president, and Jennet Stebbins was chosen as the new clerk.
"This is the first time in the history of Delta College that the officer positions have all been held by women," Rivera said during the meeting, drawing applause from the crowd.
In other action— Board president Teresa Brown said that she and the rest of the subcommittee — investigating the controversy about Delta President/Superintendent Raul Rodriguez giving out stipends to nine of the school's managers totaling over $94,000 while the school faces serious budget restraints — have met four times and plan to bring their findings before the board at the next meeting on Jan. 19.
— The college announced that it spent $5,367,778 over its revenue for the first quarter (July 1 to Sept. 30) of the financial year. This was expected as the state slashed funding to colleges and has delayed paying back on agreed projects and programs.