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Maine Community College System--News Release

MCCS Trustees Hear Budget Update,
Back Program Suspensions

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

CONTACT: Alice Kirkpatrick
Tel: (207) 767-0116, ext. 3

AUGUSTA , Me. – Four new trustees and two returning members were sworn in today by Maine’s Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap, at a meeting of the Maine Community College System Board of Trustees. The meeting was held at Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield. The new trustees are: Doris Belisle-Bonneau, an educator from Lewiston; Shepard Lee, Chairman of Lee Auto Malls and a resident of Westbrook; Merle R. Nelson, a former legislator, businesswoman and educator from Falmouth; and Andrea Watkins (student representative) from Windsor, a recent graduate of KVCC. The returning members are: Cynthia Phinney, an organizer with Local 1837 of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and a resident of New Sharon; and Brian Thayer, President and CEO of Lavalley Lumber Company in Sanford, and a resident of Cumberland .

MCCS Budget Update

MCCS President John Fitzsimmons briefed trustees on the revised State budget recently passed by the Legislature. The budget contains additional budget cuts across State government, including a $326,000 reduction each year of the biennium for the Community College System. The cut reduces by 30 percent the new funds appropriated in March for the MCCS. The final budget for the System reflects a 1.8 percent increase, or $744,000 in new funds for Fiscal Year 2006. The budget will increase 2.6 percent, or $1.1 million in FY 2007. In all, the System is receiving $42.2 million in State funds in FY 2006 and $43.3 million in FY 2007.

“While this budget presents very real challenges for us, we appreciate the efforts of the Legislature and the Governor to reduce the impact on higher education,” said President Fitzsimmons.

Trustees Back Program Suspensions

At the meeting, the Board’s Educational Policy Committee reported back to the full Board on its review of budget-related program suspensions. (While Board review is not required for program suspensions, trustees decided to have the Board’s Educational Policy Committee review the impact, given the higher-than-usual number of suspensions taking place this year as a result of budget shortfalls.) The Committee held a special meeting on June 7 th to review the rationale behind eleven program suspensions (two at KVCC, nine at Washington County Community College ) and allow for public input.

Committee Chair Cynthia Phinney reported that after reviewing the presidents’ budget rationale, and the options available, the Committee unanimously backed the presidents’ decisions. “It was obvious to the Committee that the presidents looked at a wide range of options and chose those that would be least harmful to students and their respective colleges,” said Phinney. “In light of our review, we see no reason to intervene with the presidents’ decisions,” she said.

Speaking directly to WCCC President Bill Cassidy’s decision to move the Boatbuilding program from the Marine Technology Center in Eastport to the main campus in Calais, Phinney said: “By saving $123,000 in overhead costs, the college averts deeper and more widespread reductions in programs and staff.”

She added that the Committee concurred with President Cassidy’s decision to leave open the possibility of keeping the program in Eastport through the next year if local supporters can raise funds to cover the overhead costs. The program move must commence by July 15 th in order to be ready for students returning in August. “It is a very short timeframe, but we agree with his decision to leave that option open, if the funds can be raised,” she said.

The college will continue to maintain the Center and pier, and provide some limited curriculum for the Boatbuilding and Adventure Recreation programs while officials work with stakeholders to explore additional uses. "We have asked that President Cassidy provide the Committee with periodic updates on the status of those efforts," said Phinney. "We all share the hope and belief that a more viable future can be found for the Center - one that is beneficial educationally and economically to the Downeast region," she said.

Personnel Actions

In other action, trustees voted to increase by three percent the top salary range for confidential employees. They also approved a policy change to the annual merit increase for confidential employees, whereby each college will have authority to award increases of up to five percent, instead of prior policy that required that increases at any given college average five percent. The policy amendment also clarifies that any merit increases exceeding five percent for confidential employees must be approved by the System President.

Trustees also passed a resolution authorizing the Executive Committee of the Board to conduct an annual performance appraisal and approve a compensation package for the System president and periodically review and approve the compensation package for college presidents. Both changes reflect current practice.

Board Officers Elected

The Board also endorsed the recommendation of the Nominating Committee to reelect Joanna Jones of Waldoboro to serve as Chair of the Board for another one-year term. Jones is Director of Human Resources for the Educational Development Corporation. The Board also endorsed Dennis P. King to serve as Vice Chair. King is Chief Executive Officer of Spring Harbor Hospital; he resides in Freeport.