Havre Daily News
Stone Child College administrators are scrambling to keep some longstanding student services and activities in place. Administrators learned last month that a four-year federal grant for student services was not renewed. The grant was worth $1 million over four years.
College President Melody Henry said the college has received the Student Support Services Program grant for almost 20 years. She was told the decision cannot be appealed. The college will have to wait four years to apply again, she said.
The federal program has paid for student tutors and mentors at the college as well as a full-time student services director, Clarice Morsette, and three counselors. The grant also paid for cultural activities and college visits for students considering going on to a four-year institution, Morsette said.
"Right now we're trying to fill the gap," Henry said.
The college plans to keep the student tutoring and mentoring program going by applying to fill those positions through Americorps, a federal program that pays the salaries of students in service positions in the form of stipends or scholarships.
As for the student services director position, "It's too early to tell," Henry said.
"There is some new funding coming down the pipe, but again they're all competitive and it's just a matter of writing better grants," said the college's research and foundations director, Ed Stamper. "I hate to say that, but that's what it comes down to, writing them better than other institutions."
Henry said applicants to the Student Support Services Program are judged in part on prior experience with the program. She is concerned about the chances of qualifying for the grant in the future after losing funding.
"It's going to be really hard to get back in because you get prior experience points," she said.
RJS and Associates wrote the grant application that was not funded. Chief executive officer Jim Swan said today the college's proposal was marked down for two problems. The grant application lost points because the college had not sent anybody to a program training session that Swan said was a new grant requirement. In addition, the grant application did not describe the college's plans for new staff. However, he said, the college proposed to use the grant to fund existing staff, not to hire new staff, and should not have been marked down for that reason.
Seventy-six colleges were added to the program, Swan said, and had nearly perfect scores. "I have no idea how that happened," he said.
Swan plans to find out which colleges those were and why their grant applications were successful.
Morsette said the services paid for by the grant are important to the functioning of the campus.
"For one thing, (students) get the tutoring program and that is very much needed on the campus," she said. "They also have access to the counseling services, which we will no longer be able to provide" without funding.
The program funds five mentors who keep track of students who are not attending class or having other academic problems. Those students are referred by instructors and then the mentors follow up with them, Morsette said.
"Our mentors help keep the students in school, and that's another important component of the program," she said.
The grant also keeps students engaged by sometimes taking them off campus for activities and concerts.
"We're searching. Hopefully we can find something to replace" it, she said.