Paine tightens security, announces health, finance measures

 

 

After two sexual assaults on the Paine College campus since 2012 and a series of shootings in May in which a student was shot in the head, President George C. Bradley on Monday announced stiff security upgrades.

Bradley said that by July 1, all students and faculty and staff members will be required to wear identification badges at all times on campus, and visitors will be required to sign in at the security office and wear a badge.

Bradley said that security cameras have been installed in “strategic” areas and that Paine police officers will be present 24 hours a day at all vehicle access entries.

“With these additional systems in place, it is important to ensure that all Paine College remains a safe learning environment for our campus and our community,” said Bradley, adding that the college hired four additional police officers in recent weeks for a total of 12 officers.

Bradley announced the upgrades at a news conference Monday, at which he also discussed various health and wellness initiatives and fiscal changes.

The college will launch an outreach campaign to promote wellness in the community by offering classes, seminars and other health-related activities on campus. On July 1, Paine will join 1,300 other colleges and universities across the nation by becoming tobacco- and smoke-free.

Helene Carter, the assistant vice president of institutional advancement, said the wellness outreach is part of the college’s agreement with the city of Augusta for obtaining $2.5 million of special purpose local option sales tax funding to build the Health Education Activities Learning Complex in 2009.

In the contract for receiving the money, Paine was required to make the complex accessible to the community outside of the students and staffers of the private school.

Carter said Paine already has made the complex available to nonprofits, private groups and other organizations for events but will launch the Healthy Living Series in the fall to expand that outreach. Events will include health screenings, exercise classes, cooking seminars and other activities for the public, Carter said.

In addition to the health and safety initiatives, Bradley said his administration will restructure the college’s operating practices over the next 120 days to save $2.4 million.

Carter said that will include restructuring procurement practices and reducing staff travel, but she did not elaborate on other strategies to cut costs.

“We’re tightening our belts, trimming the fat,” she said, adding that she does not foresee any staff reductions.

In May, the college announced it would implement 10 furlough days throughout the summer months to offset reductions to student aid programs.

Along with receiving less money in federal student aid, however, Paine’s financial base is riddled with expenditures that exceed the college’s revenue, high credit lines and bookkeeping failures, according to the fiscal years 2012 and 2013 audit conducted by professional services firm BDO and obtained by The Augusta Chronicle.

As of June 30, Paine was operating at a loss, with expenditures exceeding revenues by almost $300,000. Revenue fell by more than $2 million from the previous year ,and Paine maxed out its nearly $4 million line of credit with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC.

The BDO audit on the year ending last June 30 also found some of the same bookkeeping failures identified in the fiscal 2011 by independent auditor Cherry Bekaert and Holland.

BDO found that Paine did not have internal controls over financial operations, so ledger accounts were not being reconciled. At the end of the year, management had to record activity that occurred months earlier.

Both audits found errors with Paine’s ability to track and reconcile cash, and BDO stated “some documentation could not be located by the college in a timely fashion or in certain cases at all.”

Paine has been under review by the U.S. Department of Education since 2012, and in July the department identified 12 violations ranging from withholding refund checks from students to inadequate bookkeeping.

As of March, Paine had rectified all but three of those violations and was still in noncompliance for keeping inaccurate records on the amount of federal aid being drawn from the government, withholding refunds from students and using current-year funding to pay for previous year charges.

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Sun, 07/23/2017 - 20:56

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