Community College System questioned over spending, accountability

Sep 20, 2017

BY: CCNH-LFDA Highlights

The Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) is falling short on responsible spending and accountability, according to an audit by the Legislative Budget Assistant.

Audit finds management shortcomings

The audit, which was discussed during a legislative committee meeting on September 19, found several shortcomings how the CCSNH is being managed.

For example, there is a lack of consistent policy on how state funding should be distributed to the seven community colleges. In 2015, one school received about $8,200 per full-time student, while another school only received $2,800.

To learn more about funding for higher education in New Hampshire, visit our issue page.

In another example, the system assigned each of the seven presidents of the community colleges a vehicle, but failed to provide any guidelines limiting personal use of the cars.

An incomplete picture?

The chancellor of CCSNH argued that the audit painted a one-sided view of the system’s performance.

“It is not designed to construct a balanced picture of organizational effectiveness – that is, it focuses only on the negative, without also describing successes or areas of strong performance.”

- Dr. Ross Gittell, chancellor of CCSNH

One of CCSNH’s notable accomplishments is a tuition cut made in 2015, a time when public college tuition was rising across the United States. The system also froze tuition in 2017.

At the hearing, Dr. Gittell also argued that the differences in per student funding were an attempt to support small community colleges in rural parts of New Hampshire that might otherwise struggle to make ends meet.

Next steps

CCSNH is reportedly working to implement all of the recommendations of the audit.

Right now, the community college system is governed by a board of individuals appointed by the governor and Executive Council. However, next year the Legislature could pass a law that would give elected officials more direct oversight of how the colleges are managed.

Members of the Executive Council have also expressed interest in meeting with Dr. Gittell to discuss the audit.

Do you have an opinion on the New Hampshire Community College System? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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