State board to assist in search to replace MCC president

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WILLIAMSTON, NC (WITN) - The search for a new president of a local community college is underway, but the state says they'll have to step in to assist.

A search committee for Martin Community College met Monday to replace Dr. Ann Britt.

However, according to the motion the board passed and obtained by WITN, the N.C. Board of Community Colleges told the committee they will send a state employee to exclusively guide the trustees and assist the board.

WITN is told the MCC Board of Trustees and the chair will have to fully cooperate with this person and if trustees cannot, funding for the college would be withheld at the end of the academic term.

Britt is no longer at the community college, but MCC trustees asked her to work as an assistant until her retirement in March.


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The search for a new president at Martin Community College will officially begin on Monday.

A search committee is planning to meet at noon Monday to begin the process of replacing Dr. Ann Britt who will work as an assistant until her retirement in March.


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It appears the ousted Martin Community College president will be paid after all.

Tuesday night, college trustees voted to remove Dr. Ann Britt, but allow her to stay on until her retirement in March. Britt will work at home as an assistant to the acting president.

How Britt would be paid was up in the air. The state community college system, and county commissioners decided not to pay her after January 1st.

But Wednesday night, county commissioners reversed that on a 3-2 vote.

According to David Bone, the Town Manager, county commissioners initially decided to suspend all future funding and freeze existing fund balances provided by the County to Martin Community College for the purpose of paying the salary and settlements to Dr. Ann Britt, effective immediately; failure to comply will result in the College jeopardizing future, partial or full funding. That motion passed with a 3 to 2 vote back in December.

Bone says, at its January 18th meeting, Commissioners reversed its decision from the December 30, 2016 meeting, in another split 3 to 2 vote.

Britt regular salary is $157,000 a year, which is mostly paid by the state. According to the Martin Community College board of Trustees, they agreed to pay Britt, nearly $200,000, in unpaid vacation and sabbatical leave.

Britt came under fire last year after a state report blamed her for many problems at the community college. The state even threatened to withhold all state funding if local trustees did not come up with an appropriate plan of action.

The state and county cut off her salary after trustees agreed on the sizeable settlement in return for her retiring early.


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During a Martin Community College Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday night, the board voted to remove Dr. Ann Britt from her current position as president.

Board member Ed Thompson says that Britt will work from home as an assistant to Dr. Brian Busch who will be taking on the duties of president.

Britt's salary of $157,000 a year and package will remain the same, despite both state and county funding being cut off for her salary, effective January 1st.

Thompson says Britt's retirement date in March will remain the same.


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The chair of trustees for Martin Community College says they will find a way to pay the salary for their embattled president.

Dr. Ann Britt continues to work at MCC, despite both state and county funding being cut off for her salary, effective January 1st.

Jackie Gillam, chair of the college's Board of Trustees, says Britt's employment will continue until she retires in March.

The board has met twice in closed sessions since the first of the year, but have taken no public votes.

Britt came under fire last year when a state report blamed her for many problems at the school. The state community college system threatened to withhold all funding if appropriate action wasn't taken to fix the problems.

The president offered to retire early, and trustees voted to pay her nearly $200,000 for unused vacation and sabbatical leave. That's when the state system said it would cut off her pay, and county commissioners followed suit.

Gillam says the board has an obligation to pay Britt, adding that there are other means of funding they could explore.

Britt's salary is $157,000 a year, and only the trustees can remove her.


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Trustees at Martin Community College took no action Wednesday night, and a spokeswoman says they are "still in limbo".

Dr. Ann Britt remains on the job, but is not getting paid. This after both the state community college system and county commissioners voted not to pay the embattled president as of January 1st.

Trustees met behind closed doors last night, but took no action in public session. It was expected they would discuss what's next for the president's position.

Trustees had wanted to pay Britt nearly $200,000 to retire, but the state system killed that plan.

Britt came under fire in November after a state report cited numerous problems at the community college. The state system threatened to pull funding unless changes were made.

The next meeting for trustees is scheduled for January 17th.


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Community college trustees wanted to pay their embattled president hundreds of thousands of dollars to retire, a plan the state community college system killed.

Dr. Ann Britt remains on the job today at Martin Community College, even though she is no longer being paid.

The State Board of Community Colleges last month suspended Britt's salary, effect January 1, 2017. That came after MCC trustees voted to pay her some $200,000 for unused vacation and sabbatical leave.

On Friday, Martin County commissioners voted to suspend paying any of Britt's salary from local funds as well.

Britt came under fire in November after a state report cited numerous problems at the community college. The state system threatened to pull funding unless changes were made.

MCC trustees are scheduled to meet Wednesday night and are expected to discuss what's next for the president's position.

Britt was being paid $157,000 a year until Sunday.


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In a divisive vote Friday afternoon, the Martin County Board of Commissioners passed a motion to suspend funding for Martin Community College's president, Ann Britt.

A special meeting was called at 4pm in the Commissioner's Board Room for members to discuss the county's budget regarding salary contributions for the college president.

After about an hour of discussion, members voted 3-2 to pass the motion that freezes current fund balances and suspends future funding.

The Commissioners who supported the motion, Elmo "Butch" Lilley, Tommy Bowen, and Joe Ayers, believe that reflecting the state's decision to pull Britt's salary is the right thing for the county to do as well.

"The college is the hub of Martin county and we need to do everything in our power to save that school, I had twenty years invested out there, so you know I'll do everything I can to keep it running," Bowen said.

On the other side, Commissioners Ronnie Smith and Dempsey Bond Jr. argued that it was too soon for the board to get involved and that the vote was premature.

Bond Jr. said the college's Board of Trustees have yet to meet and discuss the Corrective Action Plan themselves.

"I think it's premature for us to make or take any actions regardless of where it comes from without due respect to that board and giving them opportunity to look at the issues," Smith said.

The State Board of Community Colleges has suspended Britt's salary effective January 1, 2017. Britt has said she'll retire in March, but it's unclear whether she'll return to work after the holiday. If she does, she won't be paid.

It's worth noting that all of the commissioners agree that Martin Community College is of great value to the community and no one wants to see the state pull funding.


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The State Board of Community Colleges says it is no longer paying the salary for the embattled president of Martin Community College.

Dr. Ann Britt announced she was retiring in March, as the state system threatened to withhold state funding for the college because of a long list of concerns.

A source said the MCC Board of Trustees was wanting to give Britt a settlement to leave early, but the state system overruled that plan today by voting to withdraw state funding for her salary, effective January 1st.

Britt was making in excess of $150,000 a year.

The state called their decision unprecedented and unfortunate, but "agreed that it was necessary to uphold its duty to the taxpayers of North Carolina and to ensure that the students and businesses of Martin and Bertie Counties are appropriately served by our System."


NC Board of Community Colleges statement

Today the State Board of Community Colleges reviewed the corrective action plan submitted by the Martin Community College (MCC) Board of Trustees and approved a response to this plan. As part of its response, the State Board voted to withdraw State funding for the MCC President's salary effective January 1, 2017, until such time as an acting or interim president takes over as leader of the college. While this unprecedented action is certainly unfortunate, the State Board unanimously agreed that it was necessary to uphold its duty to the taxpayers of North Carolina and to ensure that the students and businesses of Martin and Bertie Counties are appropriately served by our System. Today's action does not impact State funds that support other State-funded colleges operations, such as instruction and student services. The State Board sincerely hopes that the MCC Board of Trustees will provide the necessary leadership to guide MCC towards a strong future.


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A corrective plan of action has been submitted by the Martin County Community College Board of Trustees to the state just days ahead of a deadline.

It's a deadline set by the state after a fiscal audit of the community college back in November.

That audit states poor leadership and mismanagement of funds could mean cutting funding from the college, if not corrected by December 16th.

Trustee Kay Pittman helped draft the plan and says, "I don't want to be a part of anything that is a failure."

Dwayne Baker is another board member who joined in July and says he noticed some discrepancies--like employees raises and bonuses that didn't make it to those employees.

Baker says, "Once we found out that the salaries had not been administered, yes, it concerned us greatly and we were having that trouble into 2015-16 but we did get it rectified in time."

Pittman says, "The college approved a $900.00 bonus for all employees in November, and it was advanced to them as of November 30th."

Other actions in the corrective plan included a partially redacted action item about the college's president, Dr. Ann Britt. She says she'll retire on March 15 of 2017. We're told her contract ends in 2018.

Baker says, "We have done some good things here. Dr. Britt has done some good things here and the fact she see it's better for the community college and if she wants to retire at this time, she has my blessing."

We asked to speak to Britt during the college's employee Christmas celebration. After it was over, we were told she would be in a meeting for the rest of the day.

Baker and Pittman say with this plan, they're hopeful to get the college on the right track.

Pittman says, "We as a board want to do what is best for the students, the college and the taxpayers."

The trustee's plan is not final. It will need to be approved by the State Board of Community Colleges. We're told that meeting is next week.

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An embattled community college president says she is retiring as the state system threatens to pull its funding.

In a memo to staff and faculty today, Dr. Ann Britt says her last day at Martin Community College is March 14th.

Britt has been at MCC for nearly 17 years.

Last month, the North Carolina Community College System released its report on the college.

The report came after the state system said it found serious concerns in the college's audit earlier this year.

It listed concerns that includes fiscal mismanagement, long term vacancies in leadership positions, college president micromanagement, and that the trustees' executive committee has too much power.

The report found that seven of the college's 16 top positions are held by people serving on interim, part time, or extra duties basis. For example, the college hasn't had a full time registrar for nearly three years, the financial aid director position held on an extra duties basis for approximately two and a half years, while there has been an interim director of continuing education for nearly 12 years.

The college trustees met last night in closed session and appointed a committee to address the state's concerns.

In the memo, Britt said she told trustees this summer than she planned to retire before next summer.

She said the college is getting ready for its next Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Reaffirmation, and feels a new leader should help with that as well as hiring a new dean of academic affairs.

Britt said after considerable reflection, she decided that a March retirement, instead of one in July, "would be better for everyone."



 

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