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BOCC hears update from college officials


Staff writer

The College of Southern Maryland is growing as more residents realize the importance of higher education, CSM officials told the county commissioners.

CSM President Brad Gottfried presented the Calvert County Board of County Commissioners an update on the state of the college during the board’s meeting Tuesday. Gottfried was joined by Austin Joseph Slater Jr., chairman of the CSM Board of Trustees, and Richard Fleming, dean and vice president of the Prince Frederick campus.

“The College of Southern Maryland continues to grow as more and more individuals understand the importance of getting that education,” Gottfried told the commissioners.

According to his presentation, enrollment grew by nearly 11 percent over the past year. Of note, Gottfried said, was a 14.6 percent increase in non-credit enrollment, such as certified nursing assistants and other trade programs.

“The majority of our credit students are intending to transfer,” he said, citing that about 6,500 students are transferring to 110 colleges and universities in more than 31 states and Washington, D.C.

Gottfried told the commissioners that, at the Prince Frederick campus, there are more credit students each year “as more and more residents of Calvert County understand how important it is to get an education and why the College of Southern Maryland is a good place to get that education.”

Construction on the new building at the Prince Frederick campus is more than 90 percent complete, Fleming said. He said “unfortunately,” there were some problems early on with permits and connecting the two buildings that have put the project back a little.

The new building, Fleming said, will house the Nuclear Engineering Technicians Training Center, a large multi-purpose room, a wellness center, classrooms and labs, and offices.

He said he expects the building to be completed in May and some programs are planned for using the new facility over the summer, but an official dedication and opening will be this fall.

“It’s gonna be a great building,” Fleming said of the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design-certified building. LEED-certified buildings are designed to lower operating costs, increase asset value, reduce waste, conserve energy and water, reduce harmful greenhouse gas emissions and qualify for tax rebates, zoning allowances and other incentives, according to the U.S. Green Building Council website.

Online education is “one of our biggest areas,” Gottfried said. “We’re one of the largest providers of online education in the entire state.”

Enrollment of online credit classes increased by 18.5 percent over the past year, according to the presentation. Gottfried said, “One of the visions is in the non-credit area.”

In addition to online classes, CSM offers hybrid classes in which students meet in a classroom setting once a week and then the other day of class is online. Gottfried said this not only makes things easier for the students’ schedules, but it also doubles classroom space.

Fifty-six percent of first-time, full-time freshmen start at CSM, Gottfried said, adding that those students could be any age and of any background.

“These are students who’ve just come out of high school — they’ve graduated — and those that are going on to college; 66 percent come to the College of Southern Maryland. This is a wonderful percentage,” Gottfried told the BOCC.

According to Gottfried’s presentation, CSM is the third largest provider of education to veterans in the state. Gottfried thanked the commissioners for their support last year, as CSM was able to hire a veterans coordinator.

In addition to the Prince Frederick campus, Gottfried said CSM has been hosting classes at Northern High School in Owings for residents in the northern part of the county.

“The feeling is that we’re not serving enough residents of northern Calvert County, especially working adults,” Gottfried said, adding that CSM could be looking at doing something similar at Patuxent High School in Lusby.

“It is not good enough for us to accept students at the college to provide the coursework they need to be successful and then see them either transfer or drop out,” Gottfried said. “We need to make sure that they’re getting some sort of credential.”

He explained that CSM is reaching out to get students to transfer credits back to CSM and get an associates degree. He said the college has dropped its $25 requirement to get the associates degree certificate.

One of the challenges CSM will be running into soon, Gottfried said, is how the college is going to sustain the Juvenile Offenders Building Skills program after the $1.5 million federal grant expires in two years. The program has taken a cohort of 96 youth offenders of non-violent crimes from Southern Maryland and teaches them a trade, such as heating, ventilation and air conditioning, or plumbing.

“These young people will get in trouble, they’ll do their time, they’ll come out and, again, they’re back again,” he said. “And it becomes a never-ending cycle of crime, incarceration, back again, back again.”

He said the college “won’t necessarily” come to the BOCC for help, but it will be looking at various options to find a way to sustain the program.

“Everything is very impressive and it’s run very well. It’s just so impressive,” Commissioners’ President Pat Nutter (R) said of CSM.

Slater gave a short presentation on CSM’s economic contribution to the region, citing several benefits to the students as well as the Southern Maryland economy.

He told the BOCC that there is a 15.2 percent average rate of return on investment, which translates to a $4.20 investment increase in additional lifetime earnings for every dollar invested by a student.

In addition, CSM students increase the tax base by $47 million, he said. For every dollar of public support, Slater said, the government sees a cumulative return of $2.80, which Slater said is a 10.1 percent rate of return.

Slater said CSM spends about $42 million annually in Southern Maryland on labor and non-labor expenditures, which Slater described as an economic stimulus to the region.

CSM’s annual economic impact, he explained, has a $248 million value, including operational effects and student productivity effects.

“It shows there’s real value” in the college, Slater said.

In other business, the BOCC:

• Approved, in a 4-1 vote with Commissioner Evan Slaughenhoupt (R) opposing, amendments to the county code personnel chapter, including the expansion of sick leave and bereavement to five days, expanding jury leave to a shift worker and permitting the Calvert County administrator to grant administrative leave;

• Approved the tax differential for Chesapeake Beach and North Beach at $0.336 for fiscal 2014 tax billing that will occur July 2013, in a 4-1 vote with Slaughenhoupt opposing; and

• Unanimously approved the transfer of $56,000 from the salary line in the Dominion Liquified Natural Gas budget to cover the purchase of two new police vehicles. The county, specifically the Calvert County Sheriff’s Office, has an agreement with Dominion Cove Point LNG for security at the LNG facility. The transfer is due to insufficient funds in the automobile and truck line of the Dominion budget to cover the ordering of the two vehicles. According to a memo from the sheriff’s office, Dominion is required to shore up the budget at the end of the fiscal year.