State funding increase good news for Co-Lin

Published 5:00 am Monday, April 10, 2006

WESSON – Copiah-Lincoln Community College leaders Thursdayvoiced appreciation for legislative efforts that will mean a $1.5million increase in state funding support for Co-Lin and no tuitionincrease for its students.

Dr. Howell Garner, president of the college, said the increasecould be used for personnel or operational costs, and the collegewill not be raising any fees for next year.

“We’re not recommending a tuition increase this year,” hesaid.

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Garner indicated that was not the case with some other highereducational institutions.

“I understand there is a very real possibility that someuniversities may have an increase, but, to my knowledge, no juniorcollege is considering an increase,” Garner said. “The Legislaturewas very good to us this year.”

More than $1 million of the increase will be used in faculty payraises and the creation of three teacher positions. Just under$500,000 will be used to supplement operational costs, such ashigher utility bills.

The pay raise for most teachers will vary according toexperience and education, Garner said, but teachers with the samequalifications will receive the same raise.

Instructors in the nursing program, however, were an exception.They will instead receive a flat increase of $6,000.

“The Legislature intended for the nursing faculty to receive a$6,000 across the board increase,” Garner said. “We’re keeping thatintention.”

Nursing instructors were singled out because of the high demandin that field statewide, he said.

“Nurses are in high demand. It was a big item in the Legislaturethis year,” Garner said.

The college was also able to provide a salary increase topart-time and non-teaching personnel “by approximately the samepercentage as faculty in dollar amounts per each employeeclassification,” Garner said.

In addition, he said, experienced teachers will see a slightlyhigher increase. Teachers with more than 20 years of experiencewill receive more money for each step in the pay scale. The formerpolicy rewarded teachers with more than 25 years of experience.

Garner said in past years salary increases of that type had beenadded to the front end of the pay scale, beginning with first yearteachers, to reward all teachers.

“What has happened,” he said, “is our starting pay is morecompetitive than our ending pay.”

The addition of more funding to the back end of the pay scalewill help the college become more competitive in recruiting andretaining highly qualified and experienced teachers, Garnersaid.

Following the discussion, trustees approved pay raise plans asrecommended by the college’s budget committee.

Roy Winkworth, chairman of the college’s personnel committee,complimented the budget committee on their work and said the raisewould be well-received by the faculty, which had seen only twosmall increases in the past seven years.

“I’m very gratified that we have more money and we’re about tospend it on personnel. That’s very important,” he said.

The board also approved the restoration of two teachingpositions and the creation of a third.

A teaching slot for a science teacher on the Simpson Countycampus and a science position on the Wesson campus that had beencut several years ago during a budget crisis would be restored. Ahumanities teacher position would also be created on the Wessoncampus to help overloaded teachers there.