5 things you missed at the Feb. 24 board of trustees meeting

By Paulette Parker, News Editor
and Taylor Robinson, Staff Writer

 

  1. College hires advanced transportation director

Alan Lecz, previously director of employer strategies at the Workforce Intelligence Network for Southeast Michigan, was hired as the director for WCC’s prospective Advanced Transportation Center. He will be paid $104,000 annually.

  1. WCC receives $3 million skilled trades grant

As a part of Gov. Snyder’s $50 million skilled trades grant program, WCC will receive $3 million to purchase equipment for educational programs that emphasize high-wage, high-skill, and high-demand occupations.

  1. Board approves VPI search firm contract

The board of trustees approved a $53,000 contract with RPA Inc. to aid in the search for a new vice president of instruction. It is expected that a permanent VPI be in place for the start of the fall 2015 semester.

  1. Amendments to affirmative action policy approved

Amendments to the policy include an emphasis on nondiscrimination against any person “because of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.” The changes add that women and minorities employed by the college align with the employed population of Washtenaw County. 

  1. Board approves amendments to investment policy

Previously, community colleges were permitted by law to invest only in bonds, bills or notes of only the U.S. Treasury or the State of Michigan http://www.michigan.gov/treasury. Recent changes to the law allow the policy to change to permit investments in local governments, municipalities, school districts and other qualified, local investments to attain higher rates of return.


The Mar. 9, page A1 story “5 things you missed at the Feb. 24 board of trustees meeting,” should have stated that WCC received a $4.4 million skilled trades grant.

Gov. Snyder’s propsed budget recommends increased funding for community colleges

budget graph

Source: Executive Budget Fiscal Years 2016 and 2017, State of Michigan

By Paulette Parker
News Editor

Governor Snyder released his 2016 fiscal year budget recommendation on Feb. 11, which includes positive investments for Michigan’s 28 community colleges, particularly Washtenaw Community College.

The proposed budget includes a 1.4 percent increase of $4.3 million overall in community college operations funding, bringing total operations funding to $311.5 million. For the third consecutive year, it is recommended that WCC receive the highest operations funding percentage rate increase at 1.9 percent.

“It’s a recommendation of how well we perform according to state performance metrics,” said Jason Morgan, director of government relations at WCC. Washtenaw was involved in the creation of these metrics three years ago.

“It’s not the highest dollar increase because there are some colleges that are bigger and have traditionally received more money than we have,” Morgan said. “But this is getting us closer to being with those higher schools.”

“That is very, very impressive. I am so glad to hear this because that shows what our faculty and what everybody is doing at this institution to make this a better institution,” WCC trustee, Diana McKnight-Morton said at February’s board meeting.

With the small operations increase, coupled with proposed increased state support for the Michigan Public School Employee Retirement System (MPSERS), community college funding would grow by $29 million over current year funding, an 8 percent increase in total state appropriations.

The proposed budget also includes funding for independent, part-time student grants recommended at $6 million, representing the first time since fiscal year 2009 that the program has been funded.

This financial aid program targets part-time, adult students at community colleges. The governor encourages community colleges to use this funding to re-enroll former students who may have dropped out without earning a degree or other credential.

The governor also proposed doubling the skilled trades training fund from $10 million to $20 million. He recommended $17.8 million in the K-12 budget for career tech programs and early middle college programs focusing on skilled trades.

The expectation is that this funding comes with increased collaboration between K-12, community colleges and universities.

While this is the governor’s recommendation, the legislature will decide on its own budget.

“We are extremely pleased with the governor’s recommendation of WCC and we really hope the legislature will pass that version,” Morgan said.

Trustees talk legislation at community college summit in D.C.

By Paulette Parker
News Editor

WCC trustees Dave DeVarti, Christina Fleming, Diana McKnight-Morton and Director of Government Relations Jason Morgan recently attended the 2015 Community College National Legislative Summit in Washington, D.C.

Over the course of the four-day summit, attendees participated in sessions, met with lawmakers, community college trustees and presidents and had the opportunity to lobby about issues that concern them.

Speakers included the Secretaries of Labor and Education.

“As a new trustee, being able to meet other trustees was very valuable,” DeVarti said.

The Summit focused on legislation that is either in process or legislation that could be improved upon. The agenda was set by the Association of Community College Trustees (ACCT).

Topics of discussion included improving methods of measuring the success rates of community colleges, President Obama’s free community college announcement and making the Pell grant program available year-round.

“That one kind of stood out to me because it involves really giving students’ access quickly when they need it,” Fleming said.

“I learned what bigger issues are out there,” DeVarti said of his takeaway from the Summit, which will better equip him for his role as a trustee and give him new perspective to bring to board meetings.

“My takeaway, I think, was how important it is to keep these issues in front of our lawmakers,” Fleming said. She also stressed the importance of constituents writing to their representatives in Congress about issues that matter to them.

“We really need to make our voices heard; otherwise they’re just going to sit there and do whatever is on their national agenda and not really pay attention to us,” Fleming said.

 


Contact your representatives

House: Tim Walberg and Debbie Dingell

Senate: Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow