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Letter to the Editor: Feather River College is owed $500,000

While I appreciated the article in the newspaper several months ago, describing the Butte County Office of Education, (BCOE) program, and its importance to FRC, there was a serious oversight. It is true that the BCOE contract income is critical to FRC. However, If you were to see page 78 from the 2019-2020 FRC budget book you would see “concrete” proof of mismanagement of the BCOE contract. Lack of oversight by the BOT, resulted in a $500k hit to our bottom line. This Board was going to write it off!

In my view, there are two problems. Number one: the “administration” allowed a half-million dollar problem to accrue over a “two year” period and only took action when the business office said we have to record a bad debt expense for it. I alone…brought this item to the Board and administrations attention at our budget meeting months ago. It’s mismanagement, plain and simple. Number two: the far more troubling problem is that a Trustee, someone who plays a critical role in fiscal oversight, had to play “detective” to determine what was happening. Then I was subjected to public ridicule and bullying at board meetings and in the press for asking tough questions. Question: if I hadn’t asked about the half million dollar “bad debt” expense at the September board meeting, would the board ever learned of it? My money is on ‘no’. Would we be negotiating to try and recover it? No, again. Do you realize this is Plumas County taxpayer dollars loaned at “zero percent interest” over a three year period to Butte County Office of Education?

I shouldn’t have to find these items, they shouldn’t be overlooked for “two years” until the “new guy” on the Board of Trustees finds them! Those responsible (administration) had to be aware of this loss and they said nothing. The contract to recover said funds only came about “after” the September meeting.

The money we’re willing to “write-off” would help with the housing maintenance issues we currently have or perhaps buy one of the buses we desperately need or help with the Covid-19 issues we are facing. As of this writing, I have no evidence that we have received a dime from the BCOE.

I have sat on numerous boards and never have I witnessed such “deception-by-omission” to try to cover-up unpleasant realities at this campus. A half a million-dollar charge to “bad debt” expense is alarming…when it is collectable!

Please remember, rather than discuss the important issues I’ve tried to bring to the table; I was ignored. The only people in a position to take meaningful action are the board (and the press!). Most of the BOT are “willingly” looking the other way as the administration gas lights them hook, line, and sinker.

In these uncertain times, the future of the college needs to be taken seriously. I worry about things like the economic impact of the coronavirus triggering a recession that ends up curtailing state funding for programs like contract education (BCOE) or ISP the (Incarcerated Student Program). If that were to happen, FRC would be in deep, deep trouble since those two programs underwrite half of FRC’s total budget and all of our on-campus programs.

For myself, I am willing to confront disparaging ridicule at meetings and in the press in order to do my job. I will continue to ask hard questions and seek honest answers. If you care about FRC as a Plumas taxpayer, please join me and “insist” on full-disclosure and transparency from this Board of Trustees and FRC administration.

Dr. Trent Saxton

Trustee, District 1

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