Education

Essex County College reports favorable financial audit as major milestone

2a27dc261731644c0046_ECC10.jpg
Essex County College is reporting a favorable annual financial audit and says the report is a step in the right direction to remove itself from probation instituted by the Middle States Commission. Credits: Wikipedia
2a27dc261731644c0046_ECC10.jpg

Newark, NJ – Essex County College is reporting a clean bill of health on its annual financial audit.

The audit, completed last month by certified public accounting and auditing firm PKF O’Connor Davies, found no material weaknesses in the college’s internal controls and found ECC to be in compliance with all federal and state sponsored programs. In addition, the college says that all material weaknesses found in the 2016 audit have been corrected.

Although the audit does not affect accreditation, the college hopes that the clean audit finding will contribute to demonstrating compliance with accreditation, according to a college spokesperson.

Sign Up for E-News

The "unqualified" rating received from the auditor is considered by the college to be a step in the right direction as it works to remove itself from the probation instituted in November by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, the entity which grants accreditation to area colleges.

“This administration inherited these challenges when we assumed leadership of Essex County College last summer,” ECC President Anthony Munroe said.  “Since that time we have been working together as a team to face these challenges head on and restore the college to its place of prominence.”

The college was given notice a year ago by the Middle States Commission that it was in jeopardy of losing its accreditation for its failure to comply with standards, including governance, student retention policies and institutional resources.

Although the Commission has now deemed the college in compliance with Student Admissions and Retention, the college was initially placed on probation due to its noncompliance with Institutional Resources and Leadership and Governance, according to the Commission's report.

The college remains accredited while on probation, with federal regulations limiting the period of noncompliance to two years.

A monitoring report—due from the college on March 1, 2018—must include documented evidence that the school has achieved compliance, including the development and implementation of a financial planning and budgeting process, both institution-wide and among departments.

The Commission has also requested the college implement institutional controls to deal with financial, administrative and auxiliary operations, along with policies and procedures to determine allocation of assets and an annual independent audit confirming financial responsibility.

Governing documents that delineate governance structure and provide for collegial governance are also to be provided to the Commission.

Commission representatives will visit the college following submission of the monitoring report.

Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo, Jr. recently agreed to increase funding to the college.

At a meeting in mid-October, DiVincenzo agreed to give the college $1.5 million in operating expenses, a one-time payment of $1 million toward operational legal expenses, $1.25 million minor cap for annual funding and $1.25 million as a one-time bond project match.

The college had requested for fiscal year 2018 an additional $2 million for operating expenses, $800,000 for Operation of Public Safety Academy, $1,000,000 for operational legal expenses, $2,000,000 for fund balance, $1.2 million minor cap for annual funding and a one-time request of $2 million for a bonds project match.

DiVincenzo said the county is committed to working with Munroe and the college's Board of Trustees by providing the support and resources the college needs to right itself.

"We recently provided additional funds to help the college balance its budget and have committed to increasing the financial support that the County provides in the future to help the college through its financial crisis," DiVincenzo said in November. "Essex County College has provided generations of students with a strong educational foundation to help them succeed professionally, and we have confidence that Dr. Munroe and the Board will lead the college from Middle States probation.”

“The unqualified rating from our auditor is obviously a significant achievement as we work to shore up the weaknesses identified by Middle States,” ECC Board Chairman Thomas McDermott, Jr. said. “We are well on our way toward meeting our March 1 deadline to have all our issues remedied.”

McDermott succeeded former board chair Bibi Taylor while new board members include Carmen Morales, Isabel Cruz, Arnold Lewis, Johanna Wright, Rev. Lanel Guyton and Joseph Maceri.

The new board replaced former board members Calvin Souder, Safanya Searcy, Ralph Ciallella and Leila Sadeghi, all of whom joined the board within the last six months.

In response to governance issues cited by Middle States, the college has been working with the administration and new board members to ensure issues are addressed. 

Middle States’ action did not include any findings regarding the quality of the education offered by Essex County College, according to a college spokesperson.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

Newark

Newark's iconic Bell Building slated for mixed-use conversion

January 18, 2018

Newark, NJ—Newark’s iconic Bell building may be Newark's next hot spot.

Built in 1929 and designed for the New Jersey Bell Telephone Company, the 21-story tower—located on Broad Street in downtown Newark—is being converted into a mixed use project by 540 Broad Street LLC, a joint venture comprised of principal partners L+M Development Partners, Inc., ...

City economic development agency paid Baraka confidants $100,000

January 12, 2018

Newark, NJ--The Newark Community Economic Development Corporation (NCEDC) paid more than $100,000 to the consulting firm owned by Kiburi Tucker and Linda Jumah, who have both pleaded guilty federal charges of tax evasion.

NCEDC's one-year contract with Elite Strategies shows the firm billed the city's economic development agency $6,000 for 24 hours of "executive ...

Essex County Turtle Back Zoo Welcomes 907,522 Visitors in 2017

January 8, 2018

The Essex County Turtle Back Zoo finished 2017 with an all-time record attendance of 907,522, marking the first time that attendance has eclipsed the 900,000 mark. It was also the 13th-consecutive year that a new annual attendance record was established.

Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo, Jr. said the large turnout of visitors each year shows how popular the zoo has ...

OPINION: The Power of the World Lies in the Gentle yet Strong Hands of the Women of this Nation.

January 20, 2018

Today women from across this nation and world will come together to build upon and continue the movement for women’s rights; from equality and equity to employment and equal pay. 

Last year millions of women marched in cities across this nation and world – in fact, many of you joined together to represent our sisters, our mothers, our aunts, grandmothers, nieces, and ...

Where are the women of color in the #MeToo Movement?

January 8, 2018

As one of only two women on the City Council in Newark, I have been following the growing #MeToo movement with great interest. 

I am thrilled that so many women finally feel comfortable enough to come forward and tell their story of sexual harassment and abuse at the hands of powerful men.

At the same time, I am also disheartened that so few of those coming forward have been women of ...