Although Palomar had good intentions when they offered the supplementary early retirement plan (SERP), they screwed up in three big ways.
The SERP, also known as a golden handshake, is a money-saving initiative that would offer monetary incentives to staff who retire early. It is part of a larger plan to get Palomar out of its overspending streak.
But the plan was pulled from the Governing Board agenda at the last minute during the April 14 meeting. Officials said they found that the plan might actually cost the college more money than it would save.
First mistake: Lack of transparency
There have been complaints that the SERP lacked transparency. There were no clear plans or budget numbers, nor were there any advertised, public meetings to educate staff about the initiative.
The plan was also disorganized. The process for the initiative was unclear, and there wasn’t any opportunity for input from the public. Replacement plans for vacated staff positions were unclear.
Second mistake: Tardiness
Second problem, the entire process was too late. There were plenty of time constraints involved with its approval. There simply wasn’t enough time for anyone to properly analyze the numbers. Although there has been plenty of discussion about the SERP throughout the year, the deadline for actual retirees was this month, way too late to look at who was actually retiring and what that would mean for staffing college wide. It was late enough to put everyone involved in a bad spot.
Third mistake: No replacement plan
On top of that, enough time, energy and publicity hasn’t been spent on how to replace the vacated positions. Hiring committees are long processes, and with the deadline for the SERP so late in the year, we couldn’t have expected there to be ample time to rehire faculty and staff.
How is this going to affect the college’s dedication to the “educational excellence” that appears in their mission statement?
Palomar officials in charge of the SERP should have planned better. They shouldn’t have made retirement promises they weren’t willing to keep if things went sour.
We urge school officials to find the best way out of this mess, keeping the staff, faculty and students in mind. If the SERP is no longer a viable plan for saving money, they should scrap that initiative and plan for one that actually works.
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