OUR VIEW: Montcalm Community College is a model for tough times

By Ryan Jeltema • Last Updated 1:54 pm on Wednesday, December 28, 2011

“From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” — Luke 12:48 (NIV)

There’s no secret much has been given to Montcalm Community College (MCC) — and by extension its administration, faculty and staff — over the past several years.
Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm was a strong believer in the role of community colleges and was reluctant to cut their budgets commensurate with other state-funded agencies and programs during her tenure. MCC and its peers around the state survived eight years of steady state budget cuts for eight years largely intact, aside from a cut in Renaissance Zone reimbursements a few years ago that cost MCC $300,000.
MCC’s tuition has increased nearly every year to help fill the coffers. The college’s spending hasn’t changed significantly over the years despite a Headlee override that voters shot down twice this year.
MCC employees also fared well with the college’s solid financial footing over the years compared to many of their peers in private companies and other taxpayer supported enterprises over the same time period — especially public school teachers.
Steady cuts to public education have caused a necessary right-sizing of teacher pay and benefit packages. However, the work hasn’t been easy for state lawmakers or local school officials thanks to strong-arm lobbying from the Michigan Education Association (MEA).
So when the hatchet finally fell at MCC this fall, we were more than happy to see administrators, faculty and staff willingly pitch in to help cut costs.
All three groups agreed to switch from health insurance through the MEA-affiliated Michigan Education Special Services Association (MESSA) to a high deductible Blue Cross Blue Shield plan with a health savings account. We’re not aware of any contentious negotiations to force the change, which will save MCC about $340,000 annually.
The concessions don’t stop there. Administrators agreed to take six unpaid furlough days, saving $42,000. Faculty members agreed to a 0.8 percent pay cut, saving about $16,000. Those are nice gestures and will eliminate close to half of MCC’s $800,000 budget shortfall.
However, the most impressive gesture is a $150,000 gift from the faculty union’s endowed leave and fellowship fund to the college’s general fund. Isn’t that a novel concept — helping the hand that feeds you in tough times. We’ve never heard of a local union giving a gift back to the company or institution it serves.
The gift shows the faculty genuinely cares about the college and will do anything to see its mission carried out — educating adults for the rapidly changing environment in which we live.
MCC is one of the most important assets in our community. We’re glad to see its employees believe that too and put their money where their mouth is.

Editorial opinions are a consensus of The Daily News editorial board.

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