C-GCC earns high marks and county funds

HUDSON–“We have a gem,” said Supervisor Art Bassin (D-Ancram), referring to Columbia-Greene Community College (C-GCC).

He made the comment at the monthly meeting of the Columbia County Board of Supervisors September 13, where C-GCC President James R. Campion presented the board with a list of envisioned capital projects from college Master Plan. The board committed up to $5 million for those projects and participants noted that C-GCC ranked 2nd in the state and 27th in the nation in Wallet Hub’s survey of 728 community colleges.

The listed items combined would cost an estimated $20 million, of which the state would pay half, and Columbia and Greene counties would each pay $5 million. “We want to put them in one capital project so we aren’t coming back to you every year,” said Mr. Campion. “A lot has changed, including energy and ADA requirements,” he added. ADA is the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Once started, he estimated, the entire package would take about three years to complete. “It’s an investment in the future, so we don’t keep coming back asking for something,” Mr. Campion said.

COLUMBIA-GREENE COMMUNITY COLLEGE CAPITAL PROJECT LIST

Classification/Description                                             Cost Estimate

“CRITICAL INFRASTRUCTURE”

Replacing main building roof. It leaks. (140,000 sq.ft.)    6,665,000

HVAC and related                                                             3,015,000

Doors & windows on S side of building                               967,300

Security & Fire System updates.                                         531,200

ADA-izing bathrooms                                                          378,000

Other                                                                                   168,000

Architects and Engineers                                                  1,172,450

Total                                                                                 12,896,950

“FUTURE PROGRAMMING”

Repurposing specific buildings and rooms.                       2,100,000

Repurposing large photo lab                                                 500,000

Renovation/Construction for future needs.                         1,584,590

Architects and Engineers                                                     418,460

Total                                                                                   4,603,050

NEW STUDENT INFORMATION SOFTWARE

Current software installed in 1985                                     2,500,000

GRAND TOTAL                                                                20,000,000

Concerning some specific items on the list, Mr. Campion added:

• Security and Fire System Updates: They work for now. But “technology changed since 1997 so we have trouble finding replacement parts.”

• Renovation/Construction for future needs: “For things we don’t even know yet. So we can put in programs that people will want.”

“We won’t know if we’re actually funded until the state budget next April,” Mr. Campion continued. “But normally we don’t see adjustment downward.”

Later that evening the board committed up to $5 million for the project; if state approval comes and the plan goes into effect, the board will have to authorize bonds to finance it. The $5 million is in addition to the county’s $3-million contribution to C-GCC’s 2017-18 operating budget, which the board approved in July.

The Wallet Hub website, which ranked community colleges on “where students can receive the best education at the lowest price,” wrote that its “analysts compared [the 728] community colleges across 14 key indicators.” These indicators included: Cost & Financing, Educational Outcomes, and Career Outcomes.

Cost & Financing’s used six indicators, including in-state tuition, scholarship grants, per-pupil spending and faculty salary. Educational Outcome’s six indicators included graduation rate, transfer-out rate and faculty-to-student ratio. Career Outcomes consisted of two indicators, the ratio of graduates’ starting salary to cost of education, and student loan default rate.

CGCC’s ranking of 27th overall, included 40th on Career Outcomes, 93rd on Cost and Financing, and 129th on Educational Outcomes. The highest overall rank in NY State went to Stella and Charles Guttman Community College in Manhattan, the highest overall rank nationwide to Leech Lake Tribal College in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Supervisor John Reilly (R-Gallatin) wondered if C-GCC could start recruiting in Dutchess County, because “our school taxes support high schools in Dutchess County.” Some parts of Gallatin (and of Ancram, Clermont, and Livingston) are in Dutchess County school districts, while some parts of Stuyvesant are in a Rensselaer County school district.

Mr. Campion replied that SUNY regulations frown on counties trying to recruit students who live in other counties. However, some students do choose to attend community colleges outside their county of residence, and C-GCC’s budget contains a revenue line for “non-resident charges” and even one for “out-of-state tuition.”

Supervisor Don Moore (D-Hudson, 3rd Ward) said, “Students today are looking for two things: programs and facilities.”

Supervisor and Chairman of the Board Matt Murell (R- Stockport) said a goal is for “kids to go to C-GCC and stay local.”

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