President’s Message


Election Day!  Make no mistake, several races and state initiative have squarely put public education on the ballot.  If you haven’t voted yet, the polls are open today from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.  Same-day voter registration is available. Follow the links for election/voting information for the following counties: Alameda CountyContra Costa CountySan Benito CountySanta Clara County, Santa Cruz County, San Mateo County, and San Francisco County.  Your vote is your voice.

We wrapped up ACE Officer elections last week (see below for results) and I wanted to take a moment to say congratulations to newly elected officers.  With a mix of new and seasoned representatives, each one of them brings something unique to the table and I look forward to working with each of them. To those who ran for office and to those who voted, thank you.

In other news, the colleges and central services have forwarded to Chancellor Miner and the Board of Trustees their one-time collateral funds to address the district’s potential nine million dollar shortfall for 2020-21  I said it last month and I’ll say it again, the amount is a place holder.  Senior administration has indicated their priority will be to use one-time funds to meet this budget shortfall, and Chancellor Miner has affirmed there will be no layoffs for this year, but until we see the governor’s draft budget issued in late January, we won’t really know what we need to address in 2020-2021 or moving forward into 2021-2022.  To be clear, the loss of 3200 full-time equivalent students (FTES) over the past three years will need to be reconciled when hold-harmless funding from the state – extended through 2023-2024 – runs out. I’m going to reiterate my plea from last month that you show up, and speak up, at participatory governance meetings over the rest of this academic year so our college communities have a better understanding of the critical work classified professionals do.

Meanwhile, this is a good time to remind you to take advantage of negotiated benefits like professional growth awards (PGA) and staff development leave (SDL). They not only add money to your wallet – nearly $13,000 in additional salary through PGA – but they provide opportunities for professional growth not afforded to most classified professionals at other institutions. We just finalized a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the District changing the PGA application (see below) to have more hours be CalPERS pensionable.  As one out of six districts that offer SDL, it is an excellent opportunity for professional growth not easily undertaken when you’re working full-time.  SDL applications are due December 15.

Workshops for PGA, educational assistance, and staff development leave will be offered over the next week to help you take full advantage of these opportunities. The Professional Development Office at De Anza, the Office of Equity, Social Justice, and Multicultural Education at De Anza, and the Vision Resource Center through the State Chancellor’s Office are great resources for additional training directly related to community colleges.  Many of these workshops are eligible for PGA.

In solidarity,

Chris White, ACE President
(650) 949-7789, office

“The fight is never about lettuce or grapes.  It is always about people”. – César Chávez

Upcoming Workshops

ACE Profession Growth Award (PGA) & Educational Assistance
This workshop covers how to get started with Professional Growth Awards (PGA), educational assistance, travel and conference funds, and SDL.

Thursday, Nov. 5 from 1:30 – 2:30 PM – Zoom invite sent via email.

Staff Development Leave (SDL)
This workshop is designed for staff ready to apply for SDL.

Tuesday, Nov.10 from 11 AM to noon. – Zoom invite sent via email.

New ACE Officers

Thank you to everyone who participated in the election process. It is worth repeating, our labor association only works due to the willing participation of the membership.

Elections results below. These officers’ term run from January 1, 2021, through December 31, 2022.

Treasurer: Kathy Nguyen
Recorder: Shawna Santiago
Vice President, Foothill: Phuong Tran
Chief Steward, Central Services: Anthony Caceres
Chief Steward, De Anza: Erika Flores
Board Member Central Services: Bill Baldwin
Board Member/Seat 2 De Anza:  Angelica Esquivel

PGA Changes: Replacement Hours for Old Awards, Updated Guidelines for New Awards

Last night, the board of trustees approved changes to our Professional Growth Award (PGA) program in order to do two things:

  1. Help those with old PGA awards have more hours count towards pensionable income after CalPERS adjusted what they would accept; and
  2. Update the PGA application and guidelines to move many items currently allocated under section five to section one.

In June of 2019, with a large retiree exodus and a new account administrator at CalPERS, some of the activities allowed under PGA were called into question regarding their eligibility as pensionable income.  In fact, CalPERS made the determination that only hours earned in section one (college, adult education or trade school courses) met the definition for special compensation as defined by the California Code of Regulations, section 571:

Under topic #2, Educational Pay, where PGA is categorized:

“Educational Incentive is defined as compensation to employees for completing educational courses, certificates, and degrees which enhance their ability to do their job. A program or system must be in place to evaluate and approve acceptable courses. The cost of education that is required for the employee’s current job classification is not included in this item of special compensation”.

Your awards are still worth $90 each but for pensionable reporting purposes, CalPERS will prorate the percentage of an award to those hours attributed to section one.

To have more hours count as pensionable, we have agreed to the following changes to the PGA application and guidelines:

  1. Section one will be retitled as Certificate, Course, or Degree
    1. Section 1a will cover accredited courses and continuing education units (CEU).  We have removed the minimum hours required to use this section. 
    2. Section 1b is new and will cover many job-related certificated skills training previously listed under section five.
    3. There is no maximum for either of these activities and you are allowed to carry these hours forward to future awards.
  2. Section five will be retitled as Job-Related Conference, Seminar, or Lecture. Participation in job-related special activities, such as seminars, conferences, conventions, institutes, and lectures offered by colleges, adult schools, professional associations, and community organizations. 

For previously earned awards only:

We had already negotiated additional funding  ($20,000 per year for two years) for affected employees to take courses at no cost to them to replace hours on already earned PGAs which are not pensionable.  In addition, to help have more hours count we negotiated the following:

  1. Suspended the limit of 200 hours while on Staff Development Leave.  You may submit hours for courses taken during past staff development leaves that were not counted due to the 200 hours limit. Official transcripts are required.
  2. Allow courses omitted from any previous PGA application.  Submit hours for any course not submitted in previous professional growth award applications. Reminder, you must have been a district employee at the time the course was taken. Official transcripts are required.
  3. Allow courses not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the District.  You may submit hours for classes taken that were not counted due to receiving educational reimbursement from the district. Official transcripts are required.
  4. Job-Related certificated training.  You may submit hours for previously completed job-related activities/training where certification was provided. This refers to items previously reported in section five “Job Related Special Activities” in prior awards. Please provide copies of previous PGA applications with section five applicable items highlighted. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions. 
  5. New Job-Related Certificated training.  You may submit hours for new job-related activities/training where certification was provided. The committee will review all items to make sure they are job-related/job skill-building sessions. Certificates/transcripts are required.
  6. Apply any carryover hours from section one.  If you have carryover hours in section one, you may apply them to any previous award where replacement hours are needed.

For these previously earned awards, the review and application process is effective immediately and will continue through June 30, 2022. Current employees must submit the completed application, hours audit, and applicable documentation by the deadline in order to request a review of hours for the PGA substitution process. Applications submitted after June 30, 2022, will be deemed late and will not be processed.

To review your previous award(s) information:

  1. Please send an email to  Be sure to include your CWID.
  2. This request is for a copy of your completed application(s) and the tally sheet(s) used by the PGA committee. No backup material will be provided.  This should help you determine how many hours you have under section one and applicable hours under section five to estimate how many of your completed PGA’s are eligible as pensionable income per CalPERS. 200 hours of credit equals one award. For example, if you’ve completed eight awards but only have 1,000 hours in section one, CalPERS will credit five awards as pensionable (5 x 200 = 1,000 hours).
  3. Turn around time to receive the request for information is approximately three weeks.  To not overburden an already short-staffed human resources department.  Your patience is appreciated.

For new PGA awards:
The application and guidelines have been updated to reflect the following changes:

  1. Job-Related certificated training. These hours will now be listed under section 1b.
  2. All rules under PGA guidelines apply to new awards. The suspension of rules for previously earned PGAs does not apply to new awards. 


  1. PGA is publicly funded.  As public pensions and CalPERS continue to be scrutinized by the public it is imperative that the activities we submit as special compensation follow the rules set by CalPERS.  The burden of verifying the eligibility is on the District before the income will be reported as pensionable. We do not want to provide cause for a CalPERS audit by reporting income as pensionable which does not meet their definition for educational pay.
  2. The authority to accept or deny an activity, along with which section of the PGA application it is attributed, is at the discretion of the PGA Review Panel. These are your colleagues who are donating their time to administer this program and who have consistently demonstrated they will do all they can to have hours count towards an award.  You may not always like their answer. Be kind.
  3. PGA Review Panel:  Kris Lestini, Mary Medrano, Kit Perales, Denise Perez, Shawna Santiago

2021-2022 Staff Development Leave Workshop – Applications Due 12/15

Staff Development Leave (SDL) applications for the 2021-22 academic year are due December 15, 2020.
A workshop to answer application questions will be held from 11 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, Nov. 10 via Zoom.

We’re In A Budget Crisis, Why Are We Approving SDLs?
Funds designated for SDL are part of our negotiated Agreement and whether we use them or not won’t change the number of reductions the District needs to meet to balance its budget.

How Common Is Staff Development Leave for Classified Staff?
Out of the 72 community college districts in California representing 114 community colleges, very few offer staff development leave for classified staff. SDL is a negotiated benefit for FHDA classified staff, and while a few other institutions offer SDL, none are as extensive as ours.

 Institution Paid Benefit Leave Length Eligibility
 FHDA 85% of full pay Up to 10 mo.7  yr. of service
 Los Rios CCD
American River, Folsom Lake,
Sac City, Consumnes River
  85% of pay Up to 5 mo. 7 yr. of service
 State Center CCD
Fresno, Reedley, Clovis
  50% of pay Up to 1 yr. 5 yr. of service
 North Orange CCD
Cypress, Fullerton
 100% of pay Up to 240 hours
(1 mo.)
 6 yr. of service
 Kern CCD
Bakersfield, Porterville
 60% of pay
 90% of pay
 Up to 1 yr.
Up to 6 mo.
 7 yr. of service
3 yr. of service
 Merced College 50% of pay or the difference in pay
 between worker on leave and a substitute
 Up to 1 yr. 7 yr. of service

SDL Quick Overview

  • Up to 10 months paid time off at 85% of full pay.
  • To be eligible, you must have completed seven (7) years of service to the District.
  • Applications are due December 15 of the fiscal year preceding the leave.
  • The leave may be used to complete interrupted studies, learn by observing methods used in industry or other educational institutions, or get a substantial start on a goal of better education.
  • During the leave, the worker will be entitled to all the benefits of classified contract workers except that only 85% of service time will be credited by the Public Employees Retirement System.
  • During the leave, the worker shall earn 85% of the normal credit for sick leave and seniorityNo vacation credit shall be earned during SDL.
  • Travel and conference funds and educational assistance are available during the leave. Courses paid through educational assistance cannot be used to qualify for a Professional Growth Award (PGA).
  • Classified hourly is not eligible for SDL.
  • Funding for a minimum of ten (10) SDL leaves are granted annually.

The Application

  • Applications for the succeeding college year must be received by the Director of Human Resources before December 15.
  • Unit members may submit a copy of their request for leave without appropriate signatures by December 15; however, all signatures must be received by January 31.
  • The written application must present a detailed description of the proposed activities of the leave and the potential value of these activities to the District as well as the learning outcomes that are expected from this leave.
  • If the worker intends to enroll in school, the application must identify the educational institution to be attended and, by academic term, a list of courses (with course descriptions) the worker will be taking.
  • The application shall contain precise dates for the beginning and end of the leave.
  • If a member is attending school full time, which is 12 units either semester or quarter for undergrad and 8 units, semester or quarter, for graduate, then the member does not have to participate in other activities related to the leave.
  • If the unit member is not going to school full-time, other activities related to the leave must be completed in fulfilling the 12-unit minimum. For this purpose, one hour of activity per week equals one unit and so forth.
  • Any changes to the leave must be submitted in writing to the Director of Human Resources who will consult with the Staff Development Leave Committee, to approve such changes prior to the unit member participation in those changes.

Staff Development Committee

  • This Committee shall be composed of two representatives of ACE, two representatives of CSEA, and two administrators designated by the Chancellor, one of whom will serve as chairman. For ACE, this is Karen Smith at Foothill and Chris White with ACE.
  • Each application that has been submitted and has received the recommendation of the immediate supervisor and the appropriate administrator shall be forwarded to the Classified Staff Development Leave Committee for review and recommendation to the Chancellor.
  • FHDA Board-approved leaves will be announced by March 1 of each year.

Returning From Staff Development Leave

  • If a leave is granted, the worker must agree in writing to render, upon return from leave, a minimum of two months of service to the District for each month of staff development leave.
  • Failure to render this service will require the worker to refund the salary paid by the District during the leave.
  • Within thirty days of return from leave, the worker shall submit a written report to the Classified Staff Development Leave Committee of the activities of the leave, emphasizing the value to the District and the learning outcomes achieved.
  • If the worker attended school during the leave, he or she shall also submit a transcript or other appropriate documentation showing satisfactory attendance and successful completion of the course work as soon as reasonably possible.