By COURTNEY BRADDOCK
Short URL: https://www.thestand.org/?p=116631
VANCOUVER, Wash. (May 3, 2023) — With rising gun violence, extreme climate conditions and an increase in accessibility challenges, employees who can lead and assist in these areas are more important than ever in education institutions such as Clark College.
In addition to a recent proposal to cut a mental health counselor, Clark officials are seriously considering proposals to:
● Cut the Emergency Manager whose duties include emergency response planning, coordinating the college’s mass notification system, and conducting routine emergency preparedness drills and
● Cut the College Architect whose duties include overseeing college construction projects and providing leadership in ADA compliance issues for office layouts, projects, remodels, and the Clark’s Disability Support Services office.
Both are represented by the Washington Public Employees Association (WPEA)/UFCW Local 365.
It’s concerning that the college continues to pile more and more work onto positions that are already stretched thin from prior budget cuts. This is how important work falls through the cracks. I don’t think work like this should be treated as a luxury item.
Both cuts would also involve skimming bargaining unit work either to managers or to agencies outside of the college.
Jeffrey Kaliner has held the Emergency Manager position since 2018 and led the college’s COVID-19 response. His was the only personnel cut proposed by the college’s Security & Safety Department.
Ironically, Kaliner was awarded the Exceptional Classified Staff Award in 2021. As quoted in the 2021 Clark College Commencement program, “Jeff performed exemplary in managing several crises confronting the college last year… All of his experience and skills were an asset in managing the college community safely through the crisis and onto recovery.”
But things took a turn for Kaliner in the fall of 2021.
“I was basically harassed and sidelined from my position soon after I expressed my concerns that the college administration was not being honest with the community about how we were responding to the event,” Kaliner said recently about the college’s response to COVID-19.
Richard Nevis has held the College Architect position since 2008 and has completed most of the college’s office and classroom layout and reconfigurations to align with fire codes and ADA accommodations and was the only filled position proposed to be cut in the Facilities Department.
If Nevis is cut, the department staff could see an increase in their workload, and the college may move some of this work to an “on-call” architecture firm outside of the college.
When asked if eliminating this position would put the college at risk of being out of compliance with federal regulations, college officials responded, “We have an on-call architectural firm that we utilize, and we will continue to use their services. So, they will definitely keep us within the law.”
The college recently reached a resolution agreement to resolve alleged complaints filed with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. Among other things, the complaint alleges several accessibility issues on the physical grounds of the campus.
Cutting the architect position is a paradoxical move – it would eliminate the person who would focus specifically on resolving Clark’s agreement with the Department of Education.
College officials stated during the budget forums that the priority for the Operations Department is “ensuring we are still able to keep the campus as safe and secure as possible within our limited resources.”
So why are these positions that are critical to ensuring that the college fulfills this priority proposed to be cut?
TAKE A STAND — Please click here to send an email to Clark College leadership at firstname.lastname@example.org letting them know that current and future students, staff, and faculty deserve a campus that is safe and accessible and that the community will not tolerate skimming union work as a budget-saving measure.