Despite public outbursts, personal jabs and bitter debate, the Citrus College Board of Trustees approved President Dr. Gerri Perri’s controversial annual raises in a divisive 3-2 vote Tuesday.
Classified employees crowded into the boardroom and expressed outrage over the proposed contract adjustments, which ensured Perri’s employment through 2016, and included annual step raises similar to other management employees. The raise would increase her current $215,000 salary to $251,000 after four years pending continued positive annual evaluations.
The contract also gives Perri 2.83 vacation days per month, which can be cashed out at the end of the year.
But public comment speakers, mostly classified employees, complained of the reduction of classes, teacher layoffs and a $5.7 million cut from Citrus College’s $55 million budget, calling the proposed pay increase during tough budgetary times “in poor taste.”
“The sanity of even discussing a raise is unbelievable,” said Glendora resident Debbie Neal.
Classified employees also complained that under their current contract, seven years would pass before they would see another opportunity for a pay increase.
“Classified morale is at an all-time low,” classified employee Scott Norman told the board.
The debate extended to members of the Board of Trustees who engaged in contentious banter during the meeting.
Dr. Edward C. Ortell took issue with items in Perri’s contract, calling them inappropriate, especially with the uncertain passage of Governor Jerry Brown’s tax initiatives in the November election.
Trustee Dr. Patricia Rasmussen called Ortell’s comments “bad boardsmanship.”
“These things were discussed in thorough discussion after the board meeting,” Rasmussen told Ortell. “Everyone had an opportunity to give insight. It is bad boardsmanship to come back after the fact after you approved it in closed session.”
Trustee Susan M. Keith defended Perri’s contract, praising Perri’s “unanimous” positive evaluation and citing all employees' annual step increases.
“I know a lot of people don’t want to consider step and column as a salary increase. It is a salary increase. It is an automatic salary increase,” said Keith. “[Perri] has gotten nothing, not a cent in the last four years since she has been at the college.”
The Board of Trustees approved Perri’s contract in a 3-2 decision, with Rasmussen, Keith and Joanne Montgomery voting in favor of the contract. Ortell and Dr. Gary L. Woods were the two dissenting votes.