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Essex County board votes ‘no confidence’ in NCCC leadership

April 20, 2018
By GLYNIS HART - For the News ( , Lake Placid News

SARANAC LAKE - The Essex County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution of "no confidence" in the leadership of North Country Community College at its April 9 meeting, stating the college has failed to provide a curriculum that answers local students' needs.

"If you have a baseball team that's losing, you don't replace the whole team," said Supervisor Thomas Scozzafava, R-Moriah. "This is no reflection on the Board of Trustees."

The resolution states the county has repeatedly asked NCCC to work toward providing a technical education, including "vocational, trade and service" courses. It expresses frustration that requests for information from the college are met slowly and with incomplete information.

The county is bound by law to provide community college funding. In addition to the $2.48 million the county contributes to NCCC's budget, the county pays around $600,000 a year for Essex County students who attend community colleges elsewhere.

Scozzafava said the mission of a community college is to provide education to local residents.

"We lost sight of that mission years ago," he said.

He said high school graduates from his town, Moriah, head for community colleges out of county to get the education they need, at Hudson Valley CC in Troy and Adirondack CC in Queensbury.

Steve Reed, chair of the NCCC Board of Trustees, said the college was expected to make presentations to county leaders April 18.

"Those presentations address the issue about which the Essex County Board of Supervisors have expressed significant concern: progress on development of a school of applied technology," Reed wrote in an email.

"We thus, in the spirit of shared governance, involve our faculty and staff in the decision making process relative to this initiative and keep leaders of Franklin and Essex counties informed."

Reed pointed out that the college has balanced its budget in a difficult climate for community colleges. "We have one of the best fund balances relative to operating budget in New York's community college system," he said. "We have added programs to our curriculum, increased the number of Bridge students in local high schools, and embarked on initiatives such as the Path to Potsdam to keep enrollment numbers healthy."

Scozzafava said that while large numbers of students from Vermont come here to take the nursing program at NCCC, the mission of the college should be to educate those who are local. "Local taxpayers are paying for it," he said.

As for questions of transparency, Reed said, "[college President] Dr. [Steve] Tyrell, administrators and I have met much more frequently with representatives of the counties in the last year than in recent years. We look forward to more discussions as we move forward. As communication becomes more regular, it us our hope that our relationship with the counties will flourish."



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