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NM Community College Adopts emergency financial plan

Amid a deteriorating financial situation, the Board of Trustees at the Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari, NM have adopted an emergency financial plan. According to MCC’s Chief Financial Officer, the school has enough cash on hand to survive only the next payroll cycle.

In adopting the emergency financial plan, the Board also authorized the MCC Administration to approach the State of New Mexico to request nearly $5M in aid. If granted, it would extend the college’s survival period through the end of its fiscal year.

Less than a month after the Board of Trustees granted President Gregg Busch a four-year contract extension , MCC’s Executive Staff held a vote of no confidence in him and MCC’s Board of Trustees. According to MCC’s executive staff, Busch implemented salary increases in 2022 without seeking approval from the New Mexico Higher Education Department (HED)or the Legislative Financial Commission (LFC). That depleted MCC’s cash reserves.

Additionally, the executive staff claims that Busch hired new employees without regard to the College’s budget. The executive staff charges that MCC’s CFO repeatedly warned Busch between July 2022 and December 2022 that the college’s financial position had deteriorated substantially as a result of the unauthorized salary increases and hiring.

The executive staff allege that Busch threatened them with termination if they notified anyone outside of the MCC executive team of the college’s true financial position. In violation of that directive, executive team members visited the HED to express their concerns about MCC’s financial position. Subsequently, both the HED and the LFC ordered Busch to convene an emergency Board of Trustees meeting to present an emergency solvency plan, and to notify MCC employees in writing of the College’s financial instability. According to the executive team, the president did neither.

Emergency financial plan calls for salary and job cuts

According to the executive staff members, Busch again threatened to fire anyone who went to the MCC Board of Trustees to air their concerns about the College’s financial condition. Executive staff members asked the Board of Trustees to remove the MCC president from his position if he does not voluntarily resign.

The emergency financial plan, which the Board of Trustees adopted and implemented, includes salary cuts of between 2% and 15% for MCC employees. The depth of the cuts depends upon the employee’s salary, with the highest paid employees taking the largest cuts. Additionally, the plan calls for a hiring freeze and a full review of all positions at MCC to identify areas of redundancy.

Another facet of the plan will examine all academic programs at MCC to identify low-enrollment, high-expense, and cost-inefficient programs with an eye toward elimination. The Trustees will travel to Santa Fe next week to attend the state’s Board of Finance meeting in person. While there, they will formally request nearly $5M in financial assistance from the state.

If the state refuses, MCC employees could face payless paydays as the college navigates its financial crisis. President Busch is currently on medical leave, which leaves the Board to deal with the most pressing issues facing the college.

MCC faculty have also held their own vote of no confidence in both the president and the Board of Trustees, citing the Board’s lack of financial oversight.

Financial oversight matters, and the Board of Trustees is responsible for delivering it. A community college is now on the brink of failure because its Board failed to ask questions, take action, and evaluate their Chief Executive realistically. No one needs a Board of Trustees that can be replaced by a rubber stamp.

Photo Credit: Sonja Alvez, via Flickr