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071018 Hancock board

Campus mail courier Billy Aguilar speaks during the Hancock College board of trustees meeting Tuesday night. Aguilar called on trustees to conduct a salary study before the next round of negotiations.

The Hancock College board of trustees received an update on a proposed resource center for undocumented students and heard from employees asking for a study of classified employee salaries during its meeting Tuesday.

Associate Superintendent/Vice President for Student Services Nohemy Ornelas told trustees that college administration is considering a merger between the virtual AIM Center (which provides support to noncredit students learning English and basic math skills) and proposed Dream Center.

"A lot of the students we serve under AIM are students that could benefit from the services at the Dream Center," she said. 

In an interview prior to the meeting, Ornelas said the proposal was brought to administration by students this spring. Since then, administrators have worked with students and college staff to identify various needs and how the college could help meet them. A dedicated center for undocumented students was on that list.

"We've been thinking about a Dream Center for quite some time — a lot of [other] colleges and universities have established a [similar] center," she said. "This was something that the college felt the desire to explore and move forward."

According to Ornelas, the proposed Dream Center could provide everything from legal services and counseling to financial assistance and workshops geared specifically toward undocumented students. The center would also help the college more closely monitor the more than 400 students enrolled under Assembly Bill 540, which guarantees access to resident tuition rates. 

The college's facilities council is set to evaluate the proposal this fall. Ornelas said the college applied for a $125,000 grant with the California Community College Chancellor's Office to help fund the Dream Center's supplies, staffing and other support services.

In other business Tuesday, campus mail courier Billy Aguilar called on trustees to conduct a new salary survey for campus employees. According to Aguilar, the campus conducted a similar survey four years ago.

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"[The survey found] that anyone who is range 25 or under was not being paid a living wage in Santa Maria," he said. "I'm here to tell you that my pay range is 11."

Classified salary schedules approved by Hancock College and the California School Employee's Association, the union that represents the college's classified employees, indicates range 11 workers earn approximately $15.76 per hour. At $23.92 per hour, range 25 employees earn roughly $8 more per hour.

"I take home less than an Allan Hancock College student worker," he said, calculating his take-home pay (after contributing to employee benefits) at $1,690 per month. "At this time I qualify for food stamps [and] CenCal health care."

CSEA representative Yvette Andrade told trustees to consider calling for a new salary study before contract negotiations begin next August. 

"It's been four years since we've had one done," Andrade said. "Today we're asking the board to please instruct the district to perform a salary study, hopefully by the end of this calendar year, so we will all be prepared for the negotiations."

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga

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Education Reporter

Santa Maria Times reporter Mathew Burciaga covers education for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.