Mary Strobridge wins Cuesta trustee election
November 9, 2016
By ERIK ENGLE
With a focus on increasing faculty salaries in order to retain quality teachers, Mary Strobridge won San Luis Obispo County’s 5th District Cuesta College Board of Trustees Seat with 55 percent of the vote, getting 5,099 votes. Her opponent George Galvan had 4,091 votes.
“I’m going to see how the other members of the board feel about it,” Strobridge said. “You gotta attract and retain. It’s not inexpensive to live here. If you aren’t paying people a living wage so they can live where they work, they leave. That’s probably one of the first things I’ll look into.”
Galvan wished Strobridge well in her future service on the board.
“Win or lose, life goes on,” Galvan said. “I would like to have won, but you can’t always get what you want. Losing is not the worst thing in the world. I don’t know Mary that well, but she seems like a nice lady and I just wish her the best.”
Both Strobridge and Galvan said during their campaigns that Cuesta needed to address its enrollment issues as well as problems surrounding faculty retirement and salary, however the candidates identified different paths to address these issues.
Cuesta College faculty are roughly 6 percent under the median, as far as salaries are concerned, in comparison with other community colleges, Strobridge said.
“You don’t have a school without teachers. When you don’t pay those teachers, you’re not going to have people there,” Strobridge said. “They will leave to go somewhere else. We saw the same problem in K-12 small school districts with smaller budgets.”
In addition to increasing teacher salaries, Strobridge also wants to increase enrollment. One solution could be to introduce more classes to the north county campus and improved the accessibility to the campus, Strobridge said.
“I’d like to see the north county campus expand and offer more classes. I think there should be some community things going on there,” Strobridge said. “Have credit/no credit classes available, maybe some physical education classes for the community.”
The college should also be more active in public relations events in the county and bring back some of the classes that were cut during Cuesta’s fight to maintain accreditation, Strobridge said.
Galvan also suggested that the college should bring back some of the classes that we cut in 2012, but said Cuesta should solve its enrollment problem primarily by looking into creating a permanent campus in the southern portion of the county.
“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.”
While Strobridge was adamant about raising teacher salaries, Galvan was more hesitant citing the recent raise the faculty received earlier this year.
“They just got a raise,” Galvan said. “I’d like to see them paid as much as you can give them, but you have other bills, too.”