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2012 March 19 - 12:00 am

NEWS BRIEFS:

  • Ex-Lawmaker To Lead NJ Board

MOUNT LAUREL, N.J. (AP) — A longtime state lawmaker from southern New Jersey is now chairman of the Burlington County College Board of Trustees.

Joe Malone received the appointment the same day he was sworn in to his board seat.

Officials cited his long career as an educator and his work in the State Assembly, where he served several years as the GOP’s ranking member on the budget committee.

Malone, who declined to seek re-election last November after serving nearly 20 years in the legislature, said he was surprised by the board’s decision, but added that he planned to “jump right into the job.” He succeeds Marilyn Williamson, who had been named the board’s chairwoman last month.

Besides his time in the assembly, Malone also was mayor and deputy mayor of Bordentown from 1973-1997.

  • Retirees’ Benefits On Chopping Block

CHICAGO (AP) — Gov. Pat Quinn wants to eliminate the state’s contributions toward health insurance benefits for retired school teachers and community college professors across Illinois.

Those cuts are part of Quinn’s budget proposal. The Chicago Tribune reported that they target two insurance programs and would save the state about $92 million.

About 77,000 retired teachers, professors and their dependents outside Chicago are covered under the Teachers Retirement Insurance Program and the Community College Insurance Program.

If Quinn’s plan is approved, retirees could be forced to pay higher premiums. The extra costs could also be shifted to school districts, which could mean higher property taxes.

A spokeswoman for Quinn, Kelly Kraft, says the change is necessary because of what she called “fiscal challenges created over decades of mismanagement.”

  • Kan. Senate OKs Tech Education Bill

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — A piece of Gov. Sam Brownback’s school finance proposal has cleared the Senate, modifying Kansas technical education programs.

Senators voted 40-0 to send the proposal to the House.

Brownback’s measure provides incentives for high school students who don’t plan to pursue four-year degrees and are interested in a career in a vocational or technical program. The plan would allow them to earn certificates in qualified programs through community or technical colleges while still in high school.

Financial incentives would be included to encourage high schools and technical schools to develop the certificate programs and get students trained.

  • Quake-Damaged College Building  To Be Repaired

SPOTSYLVANIA, Va. (AP) — Repairs will begin in April on an academic building at the Spotsylvania County campus of Germanna Community College that was damaged in an earthquake in August.

The magnitude 5.8 quake on Aug. 23 did significant structural damage to the V. Earl Dickenson Building.

Germanna President David Sam says the repairs will cost between $1.8 million and $2.2 million, but the quake’s total financial impact could be as much as $3.5 million when off-site leases and architectural and engineering work are factored in.

The college tells The Free Lance-Star that it hopes the Federal Emergency Management Agency will cover the $5,000 deductible. The rest is covered by the state’s insurance.

  • Ex-Student and Mich. College Reach $40K Settlement

JACKSON, Mich. (AP) — A former Jackson Community College student who received an involuntary mental assessment is expected to get a $40,000 settlement from Jackson County in the case.

The Jackson Citizen Patriot reports county commissioners approved the settlement after meeting in closed session. Forty-seven-year-old Michael Oliver of Jackson had sued in federal court, seeking damages.

Oliver, who is black, was unhappy last year with the college’s handling of complaints he made about racial harassment in the classroom. During a phone conversation with college employees, Oliver made statements they construed as threats.

Oliver denied he threatened anyone. College staff called police and deputies took Oliver in handcuffs for a mental evaluation.

Under an agreement, the school also is expected to pay an undisclosed settlement.

  • Report: Calif. College Trustees Skip Monthly Meetings

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — City College of San Francisco's elected trustees often skip meetings but still collect monthly $500 stipends.

The San Francisco Chronicle says one of the seven trustees has missed four consecutive monthly board meetings and another has missed a third of all board meetings since July 2010.

All seven trustees showed up only five times in the past 24 board meetings.

And they still get their $500 monthly stipend whether they show up or not.

The executive vice chancellor of legal affairs for the California Community College Chancellor's office says paying them for meetings they don't attend is a violation of the state's Education Code

Steven Bruckman says it's illegal for the district to pay trustees for unexcused absences.

  • President of Maine College Announces Retirement Plans

CALAIS, Maine (AP) — The president of Maine’s Washington County Community College in Calais is going to retire at the end of June.

Joyce Hedlund has spent 43 years in education, 25 years in Maine’s community college system.

Before taking the top job in Calais in 2010, Hedlund spent 16 years as president of Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor.

The Washington County Community College has about 500 students and a 21-member faculty.

Hedlun says that when community college students start their studies they are focused on a career and have a sense of purpose. She says the college’s job is to help the student achieve that goal, be it a welder or a nurse.

The Bangor Daily News says a national search is now under way for Hedlund’s successor.

  • Drilling Firms Award $130,000 in Scholarships

MORRILTON, Ark. (AP) — Companies that drill in the Fayetteville Shale natural gas formation have announced a $130,000 donation for scholarships at the University of Arkansas Community College at Morrilton.

The members of the Fayetteville Shale Scholarship Fund awarded 57 scholarships to students currently enrolled in the college’s petroleum technology program. The school says it’s the largest scholarship donation in the program’s history.

Board president Donnie Bates says graduates from the program are well-prepared as they enter the state’s natural-gas industry.

The scholarship fund was established in 2006 and has provided 313 scholarships totaling $530,000.

The scholarships cover tuition, fees and books. They’re awarded to students based on academic performance and financial need.

The scholarship fund is supported by companies that work in the Fayetteville Shale.

  • Miss. College Sees 3.5 Percent Increase In Enrollment

McCOMB, Miss. (AP) — Southwest Mississippi Community College’s enrollment for the spring session stands at about 2,020, a 3.5 increase from a year ago, school officials say.

College President Steve Bishop said the college now has campus housing for 416, but Bishop hopes to increase on-campus lodging.

He also said community college presidents are concerned about possible cuts to funding from the state.

Bishop noted that while 72 percent of college freshmen in Mississippi are in community colleges, and enrollment is rising, funding has dropped.

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