College privatizes child care center, printing

MCCC’s child care center was under threat of closing its doors.

Facing a budget deficit, MCCC officials decided they could no longer subsidize the center. In a budget presentation in May, the college Board of Trustees discussed privatization as a possible solution.

Without external support, parents would be forced to look elsewhere for someone to watch their children.

Randy Daniels, MCCC vice president for Student Services, announced at the June 24 Board of Trustees meeting that a vendor had been found to take over the child care center. Requests had been sent to 20 vendors within the community.

Daniels said the college decided to accept an offer by Diana Kramer, who has worked in the MCCC child care center for 33 years.

“During her tenure, she has provided excellent service for the students requiring child care,” Daniels said.

Daniels said Cramer submitted the proposal after announcing her intent to retire from the college.

Pending agreement on a one-year contract, Cramer will provide child care services for the 2013-14 academic year as a contracted vendor, according to Joe Verkennes, the MCCC Director of Marketing.

“The win-win is we’ll still have the service,” he said.

Verkennes said he spent a lot of the college’s advertising and marketing efforts on the child care center.

“We had a number of messages we put out there,” he said after the meeting.

The Board of Trustees approved the 2013-2014 budget, with a general fund of $26.8 million, at the June 24 meeting.

Besides the child care center, board members also discussed using the college’s cash-strapped reserve funds for maintenance and repairs.

Two board members read letters on the budget.

Trustee James DeVries read his opposition to several changes in the 2013-14 budget, including privatizing the child care center and printing operations, and not replacing the Whitman Center director.

“As a trustee, I find the timing problematic: A public session in May and finalization in June are much too fast for careful deliberation,” he said.

“These decisions were complete surprises to me. Each has not only fiscal ramifications but also profound implications for our college community.”

DeVries said the college should not operate under a business model when balancing the budget.

“The college is not just a business. It is an educational institution that provides not only instruction but a myriad of support services that were never intended to be profit centers,” he said.

DeVries also advocated a “strategic collaboration” approach – allowing members of the MCCC community to provide input on the financial planning of the budget.

“Collaborative strategic planning would help illuminate our priorities and aid us in deciding what is essential to our mission and what is not,” he said.

DeVries quoted from General Donald Rumsfeld at the end of his letter.

“If you expect people to be in on the landing, include them in the take off,” he wrote.

Vice Chairman William Braunlich read a letter of rebuttal.

He strongly disagreed with DeVries’ opposition to using a business model to balance the college budget.

“If Trustee Devries ever succeeds in his revisionism and the rejection of the sound and principled business model required by law, this college is clearly headed for financial disaster,” he said.

Braunlich elaborated further on why he advocates a business model and practices such as privatization in the college’s budget.

“MCCC is a corporate entity under Michigan law,” he said.

Braunlich said that MCCC must have a detailed, accurate, verifiable, fiscally responsible and sustainable business model, and there is no alternative model available under Michigan law, federal law, or the Higher Learning Commission, which is responsible for accreditation of colleges.

“The Michigan Community College Act and the matrix of organizations and governmental units I referred toearlier all require a business model,” he said in the letter.

 “I reject Trustee Devries’ letter of June 24th in its entirety as factually inaccurate, politically motivated to satisfy his campaign platform, irresponsible, and loaded with leadership/ stakeholder/ inclusiveness/collaboration psycho-babble, all designed to obscure the fact that he has no new ideas whatsoever on cost-containment, nor does he have a single idea on generating any additional revenues.”

After reading the letter, Braunlich affirmed his position on the budget.

“I vote yes on this budget,” Braunlich said, raising his voice.

 “If it’s not approved by tonight, the college cannot spend any money,” Chairman Bill Bacarella said.

Suzanne Wetzel, vice president for Administration, presented the proposed budget for 2013-14 to the board. The budget was approved by a 6-1 vote, with DeVries dissenting.

Here are highlights of  the 2013-14 budget:

  • The college’s copy center also was privatized. Maumee-based Canon Solutions Co. of America, will now take over the printing operations. Canon has hired the student assistant who had been working at the center as a full-time employee. Mark Spenoso, who ran the copy center for the college, retired this month. The transition is expected to save $40,000.
  • Money for student assistant jobs will be taken from the college’s general fund and replaced with federal work-study funds. This will save the college a total of $70,000-$85,000.
  • Faculty and staff will be able to participate in additional training and education.

“We have set almost $38,000 for professional development for faculty and staff,” Wetzel said.

  • Money for a 1 percent salary increase for faculty and staff was included in the budget.

“Since 2008, we haven’t added anything for the salary schedule,” Wetzel said.