Unpaid balances accumulated on West Shore Community College student accounts since March 13, 2020, could be paid off with a pandemic relief grant.
Proposed uses for the grant funds will be considered by the college’s board of trustees at their meeting at 4 p.m. on Monday in the John M. Eaton board room.
Student balances are proposed to be paid off with grant funds totaling $90,554.
Outstanding balances can prevent students from registering for classes, and the number of students with balances has grown during the pandemic, WSCC President Scott Ward stated in a memo to the board.
An employee is also proposed to be hired who can help the college navigate the evolving trend of remote learning.
The employee, called an instructional designer, is proposed to be hired with $150,000 in grant funds over a two-year period.
They will train staff and work with them to design learning models, implement feedback, research new innovations, create educational content and more, Ward stated.
Ward stated he intends to fund the position through the general fund after two years.
Estimated lost revenues of $425,257 are proposed to be recovered with the grant. WSCC is proposed to retain $79,000 as the cost of managing the funds.
Grant funds totaling $1,377,768 will remain to be used if the above expenditures are approved.
Over $2 million in grant funds have been allocated to the college through a series of congressional acts since the pandemic began.
$154,037 has been spent so far, mostly on remote learning equipment and safety supplies.
Promoting student success
The board will hear a presentation that proposes ideas to increase student success.
One such idea is embedded tutoring, where a tutor is available during class alongside the instructor in introductory English and math courses.
Two remedial courses in English and math are proposed to be discontinued.
Under a recent Michigan law, students aged 25 or older can attend community college for free if the college follows a number of practices. One such practice is placing as many students as possible into college-level courses, rather than remedial ones.
Remedial courses often don’t provide college credit and consume time and money that could be spent earning credits, Ward told the Daily News.
“People are seeing that (remedial courses) are more barriers to student success than actually supports to students,” Ward said.
The college is looking to integrate a remedial math course into a college-level course next semester, as it has already done with an English course, said Darby Johnsen, dean of arts and sciences.
Alongside a year-round emphasis on “wellness,” there would be “monthly focuses” themed around national campaigns, such as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month, Johnsen said.
“It’s the year of student supports,” Johnsen told the Daily News. “That’s really the focus for the whole year.”
Funding these measures, and others aimed at student engagement, is estimated to cost $130,000 for two years. The board will vote on a budget amendment that includes these costs at the meeting.
After the two years, these measures will be evaluated, Ward said.
Student engagement and community programming is estimated at $44,000, and embedded tutoring is estimated at $86,000.
Also on Monday
Fourteen students will be presented to the board for the approval of their graduation this summer, including five from Ludington.