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State Set to Release ECC Audit

State Set to Release ECC Audit
Jack Quinn, President of ECC

The long-awaited state comptroller’s audit of financially troubled Erie Community College (ECC) is expected to be released very shortly, possibly as early as Friday (Jan. 8) but more likely early next week.

We reported Dec. 10 that the exit conference between state auditors and ECC officials had been held in early December and that the audit’s release was expected shortly after the Dec. 23 due date for ECC’s formal response to the audit. That timetable for release was confirmed this week by Brian Butry, a spokesman for Comptroller Tom DiNapoli.

State officials had initially characterized the review as a “standard audit” early last year and had projected a release by spring. The months that have gone by since that initial forecast suggests the first audit of ECC in 20 years was anything but “standard” and the results of that audit should help clarify the financial picture at the college which has been forced to raise tuition, drain reserves, and enact emergency measures to deal with the school’s deepening financial crisis.

As we have reported over the last year, declining enrollment, the failure of the state and Erie County to meet their funding obligations under state education law, and the sometimes absentee leadership of the college’s $192,500 president, Jack Quinn, seem to have combined to put ECC in crisis mode. Neither Democratic County Executive Mark Poloncarz nor the Republican majority in the Erie County Legislature have addressed ECC’s financial crisis in a serious way although money was found in an election year to settle major labor contracts.

The audit by the state comptroller is expected to be a must-read document for all those parties with a stake in ECC and its future, including state and local elected officials who have publicly expressed their support for ECC but so far have not followed up their words with the kind of guidance and financial support that is clearly needed.

We will have a full report on the state audit’s findings as soon as they become available.

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