By Sean P. Mulhall – Editor-in-Chief
The Grand Rapids Community College Board of Trustees made a few quick votes in a shortened July meeting today.
Absent from the meeting were trustee Richard Stewart and President Steven Ender. Trustee Deb Bailey joined via conference call.
The two big votes of the day included a Program Related Investment (PRI) from W.K. Kellogg and purchasing items over $100,000.
Vice President of Finance and Administration Lisa Freiburger presented the W.K. Kellogg investment opportunity. The $1.5 million loan will be combined with a previous $2 million grant from the same foundation to cover nearly half of the cost to construct a new facility for the Early Childhood Development Program on the main campus.
The Early Childhood Program has been located at the United Methodist Church on East Fulton St. near campus for the last two decades, but plans are in the works to build a $7.3 million (estimated) center behind the library and ATC on the GRCC main campus.
“We are breaking ground this fall to construct a new facility that will go on campus,” Freiburger said in an interview following the meeting. “We have a contractor and architect on board and they are working through a final schematic design.”
After the final design is settled the project will be open for bidding and construction should start sometime during the fall semester. According to Freiburger, construction should take about a year to complete, meaning the Early Childhood Development program will be able to start in the new location next fall.
After the board enthusiastically and unanimously voted in favor of the motion, Chief Information Officer, David Anderson presented the annual Information Technology (IT) maintenance fee for Blackboard.
“(The annual maintenance) usually comes in around $120,000,” Anderson said after the meeting. “It’s due August first and IT is taking over some of that responsibility with the contract.”
The presentation is usually made earlier in the year, but as Anderson explained, the juggling of titles, positions and job duties caused some confusion over who was in charge of what regarding Blackboard.
When the board moved on to closing comments, trustee Ellen James expressed her excitement about the early childhood development center.
“The childhood center has been on the agenda for such a long time,” James said. “There was a time that we didn’t think we were going to have the money to do it and we knew that we needed to … We talked about it for years, but just couldn’t get it off the ground. But we are off the ground and running.”