George Galvan’s election story

October 29, 2016

George Galvan

Special to CCN by Erik Engle

George Galvan had to make many tough decisions during his 11 years on the board of trustees in the Atascadero Unified School District, but none were more tough than the decision to lay off 18 faculty members in 2010 as a result of budget cuts, he said.

“I think laying staff off is the last thing you want to do,” said Galvan, who is running to represent the 5th District on the Cuesta College Board of Trustees.

Galvan is skeptical of raising faculty salaries because he fears it will stretch the budget too thin, and the faculty will ultimately suffer.

“If you have a plot of money now and it disappears later, what do you do? Lay people off?” Galvan asked. “They just got a raise. I’d like to see them paid as much as you can give them, but you have other bills, too.”

One of those bills is CAL STURS, the retirement program for teachers from kindergarten though community college, and it will be significantly increasing in the next few years, Galvan said.

“CAL STURS is really going to cause Cuesta some problems,” Galvan said. “They paid $400,000 this year and have to pay $1.2 million next year.”

Another factor to consider before increasing faculty salaries is declining enrollment, Galvan said.

“You like to give people raises, I don’t think people in education make as much as they should,” Galvan said. “With declining enrollment, that may cause a problem.” Since its peak in 2009, Cuesta’s enrollment has declined every year.

One solution is investing in a new campus in the southern part of the county Galvan said.

“I think you first have to look at south-county and I think you have to fund it with another bond issue,” Galvan said. “Cuesta doesn’t have the money to build another campus. I think it’s important, because students go to Allan Hancock; in fact my granddaughter is going to Allan Hancock. I couldn’t convince her to go to Cuesta.”

The college is still recovering from cutting 10 programs in 2012 during the college’s fight to maintain its accreditation. Reinstating some of those programs could also help make Cuesta a more attractive option for prospective students, Galvan said.

“Some of these classes, they’re nice to have if you want to take it in your spare time, or if you want to increase your knowledge, but I think you have to meet the needs of the students and the community,” Galvan said. “I think it would be good to bring back culinary arts. I would do something to increase classes for tourism and those kinds of things.”

Since Gil Stork took over as president, the college has been moving in the right direction Galvan said.

“I think since Dr. Stork has been there they are better off,” Galvan said. “I don’t want to point fingers at anyone but it starts at the top. If you have a lack of leadership at the top it filters down through the entire organization.”

The strong leadership of the college will be key going forward in dealing with the opioid epidemic in San Luis Obispo County, Galvan said.

“That problem is a county wide problem,” Galvan said. “There is so much money in it, it is something we should be aware of. It’s a growing problem, and one of the problems is it is a lot of money.”

San Luis Obispo County reported the fourth most heroine overdoses leading to hospitalization per capita in California in 2015.

Galvan, the current chairman of the California Men’s Colony Citizens’ Advisory Committee, is running against Mary Strobridge, a long-time elementary school teacher.

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Time to retire.

Cuesta College will be very fortunate to have a Trustee with George Galvan’s experience. There’s no one who cares more about education than him. His years on the Atascadero School Board will be valuable in guiding Cuesta through the next four years. Both George and his wife, Gaye, have been lifelong supporters of education in SLO County.

George, career politicians need to recognize when it’s time to go.

That would be CalSTRS (not STURS). Officially it’s the California State Teacher Retirement System.