Trustees Hear Solutions to LCC Computer Glitch

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

The trustees of Lansing Community College heard possible solutions Monday night to the school's financial aid glitch last fall. But those solutions were discussed only after a heated exchange about the problems.

The argument came as some board members accused a consultant of hiding potential problems from the board.

"I want an answer to my question," Trustee Thomas Rasmussen said.

"Now you're just being argumentative," Trustee Mark Canady responded.

"Trustee Canady, Trustee Rasmussen, let Vicki finish," board Chair Chris Laverty said.

Rasmussen accused Plante Moran consultant Vicki VanDenBerg of bowing to pressure from former LCC President Paula Cunningham.

"Isn't your financial ... fiduciary duty to the college and not the president?" Rasmussen asked of VanDenBerg.

Those members cited a report, showing anywhere from 40 percent to 100 percent of the LCC students examined by consultants -- had some problem with their financial account.

That and other details were included in a draft audit report sent to Cunningham.

They did not appear in a version the board saw.

Board member Robin Smith says the information should have been included, but wasn't specifically excluded.

"No, not purposefully left out," Smith said.

Another report on how to fix the problems did focus on improper implementation of the new software system.

"There were some errors in setup," consultant Dan Stockwell said.

Errors that, from Stockwell's report, include no solid training for the staff -- and no operational plan of what the college wanted the software to do.

Stockwell's report also details what to do now.

He hopes existing financial aid errors will be corrected sometime this month. After that, the plan is to re-arrange and re-train staff, upgrade to a new version of the software, add a system allowing financial aid staff to communicate directly with students, and compare the aid system to other colleges.

The timeline?

"All the applications functional by October of (20)06," Stockwell said.

An October date would be in time for the registration for the next spring semester. Still, two registration dates would pass by before all the changes are made.

The changes could cost nearly $1 million dollars -- mostly for additional staff. While trustees some expressed reservations, most say it's a critical part of moving forward.

"It's going to take expertise, management, resources, funding. We're going to get it fixed," Laverty said.

The meeting concluded with the all the board members present confirming Judith Cardenas as interim president. Trustee Mark Canady, a frequent critic of Laverty and others on the board, was absent for much of Stockwell's presentation, and the vote on Cardenas' contract.

She'll be making the equivalent of $150,000 a year.

The contract, which is expected to be signed tomorrow, will run through the end of the calendar year.

-- in Lansing, Tony Tagliavia, News 10.


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