A proposal to reduce Austin Community College adjunct faculty hours in response to the Affordable Care Act drew concerns Jan. 21 from board trustees.
In November, ACC staff proposed limiting adjunct workloads to 28 hours per week to avoid paying full health benefits as required by the ACA for employees who work more than 30 hours. The ACC board of trustees had its first opportunity to publicly react to the proposal, with all nine members declaring various levels of support for adjunct faculty.
“This board did not create this issue, but I can guarantee you this board is now engaged in this issue and will solve it,” board Chairman Jeffrey Richard said.
Had the board been informed of the proposal sooner, Richard suggested, “We would not have come to this point.”
“I think we would have given slightly different advice,” he said. “I think we would have said this is a big issue—not something that can be handled only with a memo and a couple meetings at the administrative level.”
Some trustees declared support for funding adjunct faculty health care in the next budget, a cost that could range from $50,000 to $2.4 million, according to ACC staff estimates, depending on the level of coverage.
There was not a consensus as to where that money should come from, although a districtwide tax rate increase was proposed multiple times.
Trustee John-Michael Cortez cautioned the board about rushing into any tax rate increase.
“There is a lot of risk in raising the tax rate,” Cortez said. “When it comes to budget time, we’ll see what the impacts are.”
The staff proposal to cut adjunct faculty hours remains under review. ACC President Richard Rhodes said the original intent of the November memo was to communicate to staff the details of the proposal and not to set any official policy.
“I apologize for the misinformation that was in the original memo and for the misunderstanding as a result,” Rhodes said.