At its July 23, 2014 meeting the Contra Costa Community College District Board will consider a two-month, paid sabbatical leave request from District Chancellor Helen Benjamin. On the same agenda Benjamin recommends hire of an interim replacement, former Contra Costa College President McKinley Williams, at a District cost of over $53,000 for two months’ work. Williams retired from the District in 2011 following 21 years of service with Contra Costa College.
Waiving District’s no-cost sabbatical policy
District policy requires that two-month sabbatical leaves “not cause additional expense to the District.” In considering Helen Benjamin’s leave request, on the same agenda the Board will consider waiving this policy in order to hire an interim Chancellor. To date the District has made no exceptions to its no-cost sabbatical policy.
Notably, the staff report offers no alternatives to hiring a $53,000 temp contrary to District policy, nor does it discuss the fiscal or policy impacts of doing so.
This is the first sabbatical leave requested by Helen Benjamin in her 24 years with the District. She proposes a “split” leave for two non-consecutive months, August 11-September 5 and October 27-November 21, 2014. During this time Benjamin would remain in the area, as the proposed sabbatical leave project requires no out-of-area travel.
Is it worth it?
The purpose of the sabbatical leave is to allow Benjamin to study management practices of local corporations “associated with professional development and diversity and equity activities” for the purpose of developing “recommended practices, policies, and procedures” for the college district. Benjamin’s leave would yield a work product in the form of a 15+-page term paper, due in January 2015, as stated in her leave application Chancellor Benjamin Sabbatical 072314 (agenda item 6B) that states, in part:
The completed sabbatical program will consist of a document containing at least 15 pages of text resulting from the four objectives outlined in the proposal. The document will provide information gleaned from visits and interactions with the CEO and/or key employees representing manufacturing, technology, healthcare, and/or a private or not-for-profit institution of higher learning. The research will focus on activities associated with professional development and diversity and equity activities, culminating in recommended practices, policies, and procedures that could be adopted by the District.
District officials advise this is the first two-month sabbatical requested in the past decade or more. The last sabbatical leave requested and approved for a management employee occurred 4 years ago, for a six-month leave.
The proposed contract for services with McKinley Williams Interim Chancellor Contract 072314 (agenda item 6A) includes a monthly base salary of $22,500, monthly $600 auto allowance and $800 “community relations stipend” and limited benefits. The total monthly cost for Williams’ services is estimated at $26,800, with the total two-month cost estimated at $53,600.
During her leave of absence Helen Benjamin would continue to receive full pay and benefits from the District.