Community colleges chief criticized for hiring plans Gardina questions wisdom of adding 4 senior staffers

September 21, 1995|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

The new chancellor of Baltimore County's 70,000-student community college system -- which was reorganized this summer to eliminate waste -- is coming under fire for adding a costly layer of bureaucracy to the schools.

Daniel J. LaVista, in his first major move, is conducting a nationwide search for four top-level administrators. They would join Dr. LaVista -- who in June assumed leadership of a system with two-year colleges in Essex, Dundalk and Catonsville -- in newly renovated offices in Towson.

He said the administrators in his office would move to eliminate duplication on the campuses by coordinating such services as computers. He said money would be saved through attrition, and he would not discuss possible layoffs, a concern on the campuses.

But Vincent J. Gardina, chairman of the County Council, said yesterday, "I have a big problem with this." He criticized Dr. LaVista and the system's board of trustees for adding high-salaried administrators.

"Something has gone amiss from earlier in the year, when the council was told the reorganization was to save money and unite the colleges," Mr. Gardina said. "Instead, they not only have added another layer of bureaucracy with a chancellor but now are going to add another layer with vice chan cellors."

Mr. Gardina said he will be reluctant to support the colleges in next year's budget, although a majority of their budget is state-funded. "I think we should have our auditor look at this growing bureaucracy because the students are the most important issue here, not layers of bureaucrats."

Dr. LaVista said he, two vice chancellors, two senior directors and other staff members will move into offices on the 10th floor of the First Financial Building, 401 Washington Ave.

Nationally, the median salary for a vice chancellor is more than $77,000 a year, according to a spokeswoman for the American Association of Community Colleges in Washington. A senior director in college systems similar to Baltimore County's has a median salary in the $70,000 range.

Dr. LaVista, who earns $130,000 a year, and his top-level staff will operate separately from the campus presidents. The presidents earn from $99,000 to $105,000 annually.

The five-year lease for the new headquarters has not been signed, but Jerry Kramer, engineer for the community college system, said the "contracts are on the table."

Miles Management Corp. President Arthur L. S. Waxtersaid the lease calls for an annual rent of approximately $80,000 for about 600 square feet of office space. The system also will pay approximately $72,000 to remodel the office.

Dr. LaVista said a central office away from the three campuses is necessary to avoid the appearance of favoring one school. He also said it was important to locate the office in the county seat, "in proximity to the county government."

The four top administrative posts include two vice chancellors and two senior directors.

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