State action could strip trustees’ power

By: By Kristy D. Carter -

Sampson Community College trustees have pledged their commitment and intentions to verbally oppose a Senate bill that is currently sitting in committee and would take away the majority of the power currently in the board’s hands.

SCC president Dr. Paul Hutchins presented the proposed legislation to trustees during a meeting Tuesday evening. Changes in legislation stems from inappropriate conduct and actions taken by a former president of Martin Community College and the State Board of Community College’s lackadaisical reaction to the problems, they said.

“This bill would essentially give the state board the power to disband local boards at the community college level,” Hutchins shared. “In my opinion, this is an effort to kill an ant with a sledge hammer and all because one school had a problem.”

That action, which Hutchins referred to as overkill, would allow the state board to set the number of times local college boards will meet, as well as authorize the authority to require colleges to go into audits more frequently.

“I feel this is an overreaction to the problem,” Hutchins continued. “You have 57 community colleges that were operating exactly the way you want, and just one that wasn’t. I truly feel this is a direct attack on the local governing boards by the state’s system.”

The information, Hutchins said, was being presented to the trustees with the hopes they could get an accurate account of what SB420 will do to the local boards at the community college level. Trustee chair, Michael Chestnutt, said the real issue was the board taking a stand and either doing or saying something as a group about the board’s opposition to the legislation.

Earlier this year, the Martin Community College Board of Trustees voted to remove and replace Dr. Ann Britt, who came under fire last year after a state report blamed her for many problems at the community college. According to reports, the state threatened to withhold all state funding for the local institute if the trustees did not come up with an appropriate plan of action.

An audit of MCC that was done last November stated poor leadership and mismanagement of funds, which could have resulted in a loss of funding for the college, if not corrected. That list of concerns included fiscal mismanagement, long term vacancies in leadership positions, college president micromanagement and too much power being held by the trustees’ executive committee.

A report done on the college found that seven of the college’s 16 top positions are held by people serving on interim, part time, or extra duties. One of the college’s top positions, a full time registrar, remained unfilled for nearly three years, as well as the financial aid director position remained open for two and a half years.

“If the state board would do their job, it wouldn’t get to this point here,” trustee member Nash Johnson said.

Other concerns, as voiced by trustee Erica Starling, are the loss of power for the local board.

“If you look closely, this legislation is taking everything out of our hands,” Starling said.

The board voted to individually contact Sen. Brent Jackson to express the overall disapproval of the current proposed legislation.


By Kristy D. Carter

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.

Reach Kristy D. Carter at 910-592-8137, ext. 2588. Follow us on Twitter at @SampsonInd. Like us on Facebook.