Clark State clashes with Sinclair in Greene

Two colleges disagree, but Springfield president still hopes for agreement.

By the numbers: Clark State's presence in Greene County

1,365: Number of Clark State students at its Greene Center in Beavercreek

5,000: Total number of students in Clark State’s four-county service area

$27.8: Amount, in millions, invested by Clark State in Greene County

$13: Amount, in millions, of additional money Clark State wants to invest there

With non-credit job training in demand — and revenue to be made from it — a turf war has broken out between two local community colleges each determined to serve the high-tech needs of Greene County and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base.

One, Springfield-based Clark State Community College, says it has theauthority to be the provider of those courses in Greene County, and late Tuesday announced its intention to invest another $13 million in that county.

Clark State opened a campus along Interstate 675 in Beavercreek in 2006, and it has reaped close to $1 million the past three years by marketing its training services just to Greene County companies, said Duane Hodge, the college’s director of workforce development, sales and outreach.

The other, Dayton-based Sinclair Community College, has plans to move its custom training and consulting services — and possibly its unmanned aerial systems program — to the same area by early 2014. Sinclair spokesman Adam Murka on Wednesday said the school was approached by Greene County leadership about expanding there because needs allegedly weren’t being met.

“If they’re going to come in there with a big budget and nine sales reps, that’s different. I’m down there with one rep,” Hodge said Wednesday.

But, he added, “What they’re going to find is … we’ve connected with all those companies.”

In the most recent three-year span, Clark State has served 1,385 non-credit individuals in Greene County, Hodge said, training them in such areas as how to be supervisors, how to use the software program Oracle or how to drive a forklift.

“What makes Sinclair think they’re going to drum up all this business with companies that we’ve already been serving since 2004?” Hodge said.

In a statement, Murka said Sinclair has set out “to better meet the growing unmet needs of businesses directly and indirectly connected to Wright-Patterson.”

“The local economy benefits when workforce needs are being filled in an efficient manner,” Murka added.

But, Clark State’s board chairman insists, Sinclair wants to do it in an area it’s not entitled to serve.

“Greene County is Clark State’s to serve. The Ohio Revised Code speaks to that,” said Jim Doyle, chairman of the Clark State board and a 16-year trustee of the school.

Clark State’s legislated service area includes Greene County, where it has 1,365 students, in addition to Clark, Champaign and Logan counties.

Sinclair serves Montgomery and Warren counties, Murka said.

But, Murka said, that doesn’t apply to non-credit training.

“What we’re talking about is serving industry needs,” he said.

Doyle doesn’t buy Sinclair’s interpretation of the service area.

“Those (service areas) have been blazed in stone by the state government,” Doyle said.

Both institutions have said they want to strike a partnership because it’s a waste of taxpayer money to duplicate services, said Clark State President Jo Alice Blondin.

Murka said Sinclair “awaits thoughtful consideration and response” to a memorandum of understanding it sent Clark State outlining potential terms for a partnership.

“We haven’t received anything,” Blondin said, just before the Sinclair proposal arrived Wednesday.

Clark State was reviewing that plan, a spokeswoman said.

Clark State, for its part, has drafted a memorandum of its own, Blondin said.

“A collaborative solution exists,” she said, “in the form of a written memorandum of understanding.”

In a letter Monday to Sinclair President Steve Johnson, Doyle and Blondin wrote, “At this time, Clark State’s board of trustees and I cannot approve Sinclair’s proposed move into our state-assigned service area without a memorandum of understanding that ensures the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

According to Doyle, Sinclair has rebuffed the idea of a partnership.

“So far, Sinclair says, ‘No, we don’t need that,’ ” Doyle said. “If they want a physical presence there, we want to have a memorandum of understanding that says you do this, we do that.

“The response so far has been, ‘No, we’re coming.’ ”

The timing of Clark State’s Tuesday night announcement that it plans to seek millions more in state funding for its Greene County campus is coincidental, according to Blondin.

Ohio’s 23 community colleges have a Friday deadline to submit their capital requests to the state Board of Regents, she said.

Already, Clark State has committed $27.8 million to Greene County, and the additional $13 million would purchase 3.4 acres of nearby land for another 50,000-square-foot facility.

Blondin took over the Clark State helm on July 1.

“Whenever there’s a change in leadership, there may be a change in direction,” she said. “When you look at our numbers, Greene County is a big focus.”

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