Part-time counselors’ fate hangs by a thread on campus


David Jenkins

While in Faculty Senate Stephanie Rosenblatt, Cerritos College Faculty Federation liaison, asks other members to attend the Board of Trustees meeting. Rosenblatt hopes to have 40 other faculty members attend the meeting to support part-time counselors.

Carmelita Islas Mendez

Cerritos College faculty are petitioning campus administrators this week as 15 part-time counselors are expected to lose their jobs this semester due to a lack of grant funding.

Stephanie Rosenblatt, who serves as a liaison for the Cerritos College Faculty Federation, says losing the counselors will negatively impact students.

Rosenblatt said that the part-time counselors contribute “greatly” to the counseling department by providing over 140 hours a week of counseling to students.

Part-time counselors were notified that their hours would be cut or that they would have no hours, two days in advance. However, after the union sent a demand-to-negotiate letter to the district it was decided that the counselors would be kept until the end of the month.

“It is really hard to have people lose their jobs with only two-days notice,” Rosenblatt said, “even McDonalds gives you two-weeks notice.”

Karen Patron, Associated Students of Cerritos College president, said that the loss of the 15 part-time counselors will greatly impact the students seeing as it is already difficult to obtain an appointment with a counselor.

Patron said, “I think that we may have to look at the process of how we go about getting appointments with the counselors because I think that students get discouraged from going to the counselors because the process is so difficult.”

Counseling Department Chairperson Armando Soto responded by saying that all colleges have the challenge of “knowing how to positively incentivize students to come in” and that losing counselors will impact how effectively the department will be able to continue providing services.

Soto said the issue was first noted while looking at the budget in December when they realized that the Student Success and Support Program grant was low and that it would impact students in the spring 2018 semester.

The Student Success and Support Program grant funds core services for many colleges in California.

The SSSP defines core services as “orientation; assessment; counseling, advising, and other education planning services needed to assist a student in making an informed decision about his or her education goal.”

Full-time counselors provide these services along with part-time counselors.

Soto said, “When we think about it we have counselors that teach or work in programs, like PUENTE or Umoja, where it is only 50 percent of their time and the other 50 percent is seeing general students who need general counseling services.

“The other 50 percent of time that is not spent counseling is given to part-time counselors. Typically, it is a balancing act and trying to cover full-time counselors by giving appointments to part-timers.”

Rosenblatt also said, “It is in the sincere hope of the counselors and CCFF that the District will be able to find the approximately $140,000 needed for these counselors to continue to provide 144 hours/week of counseling service to our students until the end of this semester.

“This would amount to less than 0.07 percent of the $2 million surplus from last year and it is less than 0.005 percent of the $28.7 million in unrestricted funds that are sitting in the bank.

“At the last board meeting, where people went to support Zebra Coffee, that for me was a really beautiful moment because it showed how as an institution we can look at a decision that monetarily and on paper makes sense and then realize the communal impact and we can reverse the decision, we are not robots,” said Rosenblatt

Rosenblatt plans to attend the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 7 with other faculty and union advocates to support.

Soto concluded by saying, “There was no ill-intent, we value the part-time counselors. They are my peers and I absolutely care about their well-being and the well-being of the department because without them we can’t effectively provide services to our students.”