November 25, 2017

Our View

Taxpayers need to demand transparency

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Kirtland Community College was established March 7, 1966, by a vote of the electorate of Crawford, Ogemaw, Oscoda and Roscommon counties.

“Kirtland Community College, in a broad sense, belongs to and is supported by the residents of the college district,” the policy statement on the college’s website reads. “This college is operated in the public interest by the board of trustees, a representative body chosen by the community college district electorate and responsible to them for the proper administration of the college.”

The taxpayers of Ogemaw, Oscoda, Roscommon and Crawford counties need to become and remain involved in the decisions of the Kirtland Community College Board of Trustees and college President Tom Quinn.

For the last several years, Kirtland has been slowly migrating its services to the northwest.

The board and the college president have a responsibility to first represent the four counties and the taxpayers of those counties who have supported the college since its inception.

On the surface, expansion makes sense and is likely needed. However, the college has a vested interest in the Roscommon County campus, a location that was designed to be equally inconvenient to its four-county region — centrally located to be equal distance from the population centers of the counties it serves.

Taxpayers need to be mindful of the college’s expansion and should demand that an expansion is just that — additional services rendered at secondary locations. Those services should first be offered at its primary location.

However, Kirtland has offered mandatory courses for a degree only at a secondary location — presumably a move to boost attendance at the satellite locations.

Kirtland recently began operations at its Health Sciences Center, located off I-75 just south of Grayling.

When questioned about the location, Quinn claimed the location was more convenient for the majority of students. However, according to information provided by the college, more than 61 percent of its students are traveling farther if they attend the Health Sciences Center. It should be noted that these figures are based on the college’s total enrollment at all campuses, and not all the students who are attending that particular facility.

The college’s move to its Grayling location included its book-store and food services. The Roscommon campus was essentially abandoned in this regard, leaving students enrolled at the campus, including those who attend the recently renovated auto tech facility, to either commute to Grayling or obtain services elsewhere off campus.

The push northwest is also evident with the repurposing of its West Branch satellite location. When unveiled, the college boasted the location as the home of its surgical tech program. At a renovation cost of about $50,000, the building is now said to be home to the college’s business programs, though the parking lot is usually rather empty.

Recently the college entered into an agreement with Otsego County to take over its management and operations of University Center Gaylord.

The college has operated its Michigan Technical Education Center (M-TEC) facility at the University Center since its inception. It migrated programs from the Roscommon campus to the M-TEC, in addition to expanding its course offerings at the M-TEC facility.

The additional offerings at M-TEC are wonderful, but if those programs are only offered outside the four-county tax base, at the convenience of Otsego County, the college is doing a disservice to its founding tax base.

At its last regular meeting, the board announced date and possible location changes for its meetings, saying it may hold some at the University Center Gaylord.

In 2015 the college received more than $1.3 million in taxes from Ogemaw County, $2.8 million from Roscommon County, $1.19 million from Crawford County and $709,546 from Oscoda County. It also received $742,000 from Otsego County for its M-TEC facility at the University Center.

If the college intends to continue its northwest migration, that needs to be made clear to the taxpayers who support it, so they can decide if that support should continue. The taxpayers also owe it to the college to become involved now and make their voices heard before detrimental decisions are made on their behalf.

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concernedvoter4

The college needs to make sure those of us paying the bill get the information about what the college is doing. We pay and they move out of the area, leaving Roscommon campus just a mess. Shame on the people running the college, that is not what was told to us when they wanted the mileage to pass. I am not happy at all.

Saturday, February 4 | Report this
IMO5735

This dissolution of the Roscommon campus has been ongoing almost since the arrival of President Tom Quinn. Voters of Ogemaw County need to be made aware of this and keep it in mind the next time a millage vote comes up. Rumor has it that the West Branch campus, originally intended for the Surg Tech program, will, in all liklihood, be closing within the next year. Not only are the majority of classes being moved to the Grayling area, but many are also only available online now, resulting in a major reduction of employees. The intent to completely close the Roscommon campus has been common knowledge among faculty and staff for quite some time.

Tuesday, February 21 | Report this
mitaxpayer

The new facility at WB cost the taxpayers approx. $1,000,000.00 including land, demolition, new construction and equipment. Request a FOIA if you don't believe it. And now they hardly use the site and it's sits empty most of the time. Your tax $$ at work.

Wednesday, March 1 | Report this
Upset Momma

It's about time I saw this brought up. I see this was published in February, but this is the first I time I've seen it, so I'm still going to comment. The "vote" for this whole thing was not well publicized. I would have certainly voted NO. I wonder why it wasn't well publicized? I only found out after the fact that this millage was voted on and passed. I also found out they were super sneaky in how they presented it. They said, "Your taxes won't go up!" That was a partial truth. The whole truth is, a bond was expiring and our taxes would have gone DOWN had this not gone through. But it did go through, so our taxes didn't go down. Sneaky, sneaky, sneaky. Disgusting really.

I have been telling people for the last few years to quit sending their kids to Kirtland. The things that have been going on there have concerned me so much, this new Grayling site only being one of the concerns. I have called President Quinn. I've talked to the Dean of Instruction. They frankly didn't seem like they cared. I voiced my concern about people in the southeast parts of Ogemaw County especially. ALL of them are paying taxes on buildings that are not being used anymore, AND paying MORE taxes for a brand new building in Grayling. Very convenient for the people living in Grayling, and Otsego County (where all the MTEC stuff is located). Oh wait, Otsego County doesn't pay any taxes for Kirtland. So that means those students also pay out of district tuition. Otsego students pay in-district only for classes taken at the M-TEC Gaylord building. All others, including online classes, are billed as out of district. Great for Kirtland I guess. Bad for students. I felt totally taken advantage of as a taxpayer by this whole thing. That isn't the only problem I have though.

My two oldest children attended Kirtland beginning in '05. It was a good experience. One was an art student, and the other was taking just basics to move on. The art department at that time was excellent. There were so many good choices for classes and degrees offered. Several teachers were in the art department. Generally a student who is strong in the art department, isn't that great in math. The math and science classes that were offered at the basic level were well taught and nothing was online. It was pencil and paper, student and teacher. No complaints. By the time my third child went to Kirtland, it was a totally different story. Many of the art teachers have "retired" or quit, or moved to other colleges. Scott Rice, a saint in human form, has stayed on for these kids. The man is amazing. You couldn't ask for a better teacher, but he's basically a one man show now. He's stretched pretty thin. My son took every art class offered, and was also offered a scholarship to Kendall School of Art. Unfortunately he never got a degree from Kirtland because he couldn't pass the ridiculous HAWKS math program they have there now. He passed the first class, but the second math class was the most unbelievable thing. It's GREAT for the algebra teachers. They literally have to do NOTHING. What is supposed to be a face to face class is really an online class. My son even tried to get a tutor and the tutor couldn't help him because every homework lesson is considered a "certification", which is like a test. If you get more than four wrong you have to do the entire thing over again on the computer, only with different problems. Very, very discouraging. Once again, great for Kirtland, TERRIBLE for students. So many good teachers out at Kirtland have quit. Oh they say they've retired, but I wonder. I really wonder. I don't trust Quinn at all. He is a politician through and through. He was a real smooth talker when I talked to him, but I could tell he really could care less about my son.

What has gone on at Kirtland is sad. I'm sure the people by Grayling and Gaylord are thrilled, but they really need to change their tax base to exclude Ogemaw County. Let Otsego pick up the tab, they're reaping the benefits. They're now just a quick, 25 minute jaunt down I-75 to the state of the art, sparkling new campus.

Just one last side note. My fourth child just started attending Alpena Community College. What a different experience. His algebra class has a TEACHER, PENCIL, PAPER and a book that they actually use, instead of paying $180.00 for a HAWKS program book that is never used. You basically pay for the code to unlock the HAWKS program. The book is literally useless after you take the class. The staff and advisers were much more parent friendly at Alpena. Oh, and when you call ACC, a real person actually answers the phone. I used to recommend Kirtland to so many people. I now do the opposite. Now I'm just a frustrated tax payer to empty buildings in West Branch and Roscommon.

Monday, October 2 | Report this

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