College discusses finances
College Superintendent /President Dr. Douglas Houston said he cannot make it clear enough that these numbers reflect prior years, and that the college is making steps to improve its policies.
The college has gone through an administrative change, he said, and there are many things that are under the process of improvement.
In previous years, said Houston, “There was an assurance that a system was in place to ensure that these things didn’t occur, but it is clear that we don’t need an assurance. We need a solid system.”
Houston said his staff is working hard to implement policies to avoid this situation in the future, and also to bring the current deficit numbers down.
“There are many new policies implemented,” said Taylor. “Policies that allow us to place a block on a student’s ability to register for classes until that account is brought current will have an impact on stopping negative accounts to perpetuate.”
The administration is putting forth many new efforts to collect amounts owned for tuition and other expenses, some of which are dependent on state grants and financial aid, said Taylor.
Taylor and Houston both said that these and policies are now in place, necessary controls to ensure that the college remains in good financial standing.
“Also, it is not clear how much of old student debt has been written off yet,” said Houston, “and that may change the numbers quite a bit.”
Houston said he felt strongly about letting people know that the money owed is not entirely due to student accounts in arrears, but a good portion is from money borrowed from the college’s general fund by the cafeteria, bookstore, and dormitories in past years.
Taylor said it is not clear at this time what the amounts borrowed were originally for, but that he will investigate further, the results of which will be presented in a future meeting.
“It is hard to say,” said Taylor, “it could have been money borrowed by the cafeteria for bills or supplies, or by the dormitories for renovation or repairs.”
Taylor said the administration does know that the bookstore is doing very well right now, indicating that the store’s debts to the general fund could very well be paid off soon.
Members of the board were given the opportunity to comment individually, all expressing concern over how the numbers were allowed to reach the current height in the first place.
Special Trustee Thomas Henry stressed to the board that conditions are improving, and that school officials need to work together to begin the recovery phase for the current fiscal situation.
“The board previously lacked proper leadership for the past five to six years,” said Henry, “and that is not something that we are going to recover from in six months.”
He also said that it is important to remember that the school is improving, and “everyone is working hard to get everything back on track. We have recognized the problem, we are implementing the appropriate measures to resolve it for the future of the school.”
Houston resolved to the board to bring in a comprehensive solution to the problem when the school’s 311 quarterly plan is presented for approval in June.
Other notable issues in the monthly meeting included a presentation by Matriculation Coordinator Tina Bishop, and newly appointed members.
Houston congratulated faculty member Cheryl Ashenbach on her recent appointment as academic senate president, a title previously held by Ross Brosius.
Associated Student Body President Mary Cobb spoke briefly about her pride in serving Lassen College, before introducing newly elected ASB president, Abel Ramos. Christian Younger was re-elected as student trustee for a second term.
Among Cobb's accomplishments while in office: the implementation of a textbook rental program, and the development of a student survey, the results of which have yet to be tallied.
Houston said that he regrets to see Cobb move on as well, but that clearly the "future of the college is in good hands" with Abel.
Also noted, the Board of Governors has voted a new Chancellor for the Community College system, Jack Scott. Scott will replace current Chancellor Woodriff, who will retire office in January 2009.
LCC Matriculation Coordinator Bishop explained her functions for the college, which are composed of seven separate components: admissions, orientation, assessment, counseling/advisement, student follow-up, coordination and training, and research and evaluation.
Bishop said the college has been in need of a matriculation coordinator for more than five years, and she was honored when Dr. Houston approached her about taking on the position.
Many steps have been taken in the right direction, said Bishop, who has recently updated the LCC application, as well as the student counseling and orientation processes. Several new dates for orientation have been added, she said, and an interactive PowerPoint presentation will also be available in the student service center for students who will not be able to attend any of the sessions. Bishop said her staff is also working to develop an inline training tool as well.
Bishop said she is also working on updating the student handbook, the LCC exemption policy, and increasing student follow-up.
The next meeting of the LCC District Board of Trustees will be held at 5:30 p.m., June 10.
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