Macon and Warner Robins technical colleges to merge

jburk@macon.comSeptember 26, 2012 

Central Georgia Technical College in Macon and Middle Georgia Technical College in Warner Robins will merge next year in an effort to streamline services and save money.

The decision to combine the schools was made Wednesday at the Technical College System of Georgia board meeting in Savannah. It is one in a series of mergers the state has made since 2009 as a way to save on administrative costs.

Past mergers each are estimated to have saved $500,000 annually, said Mike Light, spokesman for the technical college system.

No campuses will close, and all programs will continue, school officials said. However, some executive jobs could be eliminated through attrition, reassignment or layoffs, according to a system news release.

“Our system is not unlike the rest of state government,” said Jeff Scruggs, vice president of economic development and institutional support services at Middle Georgia Tech. “We are having to do more with less.”

Ivan Allen, president of Middle Georgia Tech, will lead the merger locally. Allen also has been serving as interim president of Central Georgia Tech since Mike Moye retired May 31. Scruggs is serving as acting president at Middle Georgia Tech.

“Moving forward, the goal will be to ensure that this merger results in enhanced opportunities for students throughout the region and to ensure that we deliver services in the most efficient and cost-effective manner possible,” Allen said in the news release. “By combining the considerable strengths of both colleges, we will create a strong and vibrant force for economic development and community support.

“In the end, students will have enhanced access to quality education and training, and taxpayers will benefit from a streamlined and efficient delivery model.”

The merger is expected to be complete by July 1, 2013.

Officials will be looking at past mergers for guidance.

There used to be 33 technical colleges in Georgia, Scruggs said. Now there are 25. After this consolidation, there will be 24.

“So there’s kind of some templates out there,” Scruggs said. “Some schools have done this before, and we’ll be drawing on their experiences.”

Each college has a board of directors that will have to merge. Human resources, payroll, accounting systems and student records will need to be consolidated, said Scruggs.

Federal and state grants and contracts to provide for GED and adult education at each institution will need to be worked out. Accreditation will have to be ensured.

“We’ve got to work with the federal government and the state with our financial aid,” Scruggs said. “Just a lot that goes on inside.”

Nearly 10,000 students attended the two colleges combined in fall 2011, Scruggs said. That doesn’t count those involved in GED and adult education programs or business and industry contracts. There are about 850 full- and part-time employees at the institutions combined.

Technical College System of Georgia Commissioner Ron Jackson will announce the new president in the coming weeks. Warner Robins will be considered the merged college’s main campus, though the president will also have an office in Macon, the release states.

The board of directors from both colleges will be asked to recommend a name for the new institution.

Robby Whitehead, chairman of Central Georgia Tech’s board of directors and owner of Specialty Power Windows in Forsyth, said he hasn’t spoken to other board members about the merger, but he sees it as beneficial.

“I think it would help us to continue to provide quality education in both areas while reducing costs, which is the goal of the merger anyway,” he said.

Tom McMichael, chairman of Middle Georgia Tech’s board of directors and a Houston County commissioner, said he supports the merger.

“I think it’s a good decision because we’re so close together,” he said. “I think by putting the two together that we can offer a more diversified curriculum between the two colleges.”

He said he also has his own idea about a name for the merged school.

“Ocmulgee Technical College,” he said. “It’s the (name of the) river, and it runs through the service area.”

To contact writer Jennifer Burk, call 256-9705.

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