Despite a recommendation from the state auditor's office to do so, Crowder College will not be implementing fees to students paying tuition via a credit card.

On Thursday, the college's board of trustees unanimously agreed to continue the college's policy of not charging students credit card fees. While the college would lose money on the uncollected fees, Dr. Kent Farnsworth, interim president, said the school would come out a winner in the long run.

"This marks a conscious decision by the college not to charge credit card fees for students who use a credit card to pay for tuition," Farnsworth said. "No. 1, using a credit card gets the money to us immediately. We lose less money through not collecting fees than we would through going through collections. No. 2, we don't want to add to the cost of tuition."

Farnsworth said some students pay for tuition via federal grants and loans. Charging a credit card fee on transactions would mean that federal tax dollars earmarked for education purposes, instead would go to pay the fees.

The board unanimously agreed to continue the college's practice of not charging fees for credit card use.
In August, state auditor Tom Schweich gave the college a "fair" rating after his staff conducted a review of the college's operations. The audit ratings scale includes four ratings: excellent, good, fair and poor. A fair rating is described as indicating that the entity "needs to improve operations in several areas."

The auditor's office's findings included several areas Crowder has already addressed, including several in the college bookstore; These were a lack of adequately documenting inventories, lack of adequate segregation of duties, and insufficient software to maintain an adequate audit trail. The college has since sought technical support to address the software issue, created a new code to properly denote book buybacks from book refunds in the students' accounts, and are implementing new procedures to address inventory documentation.

But the audit also called for a complete separation of the college and the Crowder College Foundation. Currently, the two entities share building space and some office personnel.

Farnsworth said the cost of separating the offices would be "considerable," adding that many colleges share office space and staff with their foundations, and that there is legal precedence to continue to do so. Therefore, he recommended the college continue its current policies, and the board concurred unanimously.

The board, however did vote to implement one of the auditor's recommendations: that background checks be performed on information systems personnel.

"If someone decided to go rogue on us, they could do considerable damage," Farnsworth told the board in recommending the group approve the auditor's request.

In other business, the board:

• Agreed to pay $1.8 million for three buildings and some 12.1 acres of land used by the Cassville campus. The contract is due to be signed today, Farnsworth said;

• Heard a report from Glenn Coltharp on 2012-13 goals and objectives and how those were being met, and on continuous tactical planning for the current academic year;

• Heard an update on the college's agriculture programs from Jay Wilkins, instructor;

• Approved the resignations of Marcia Sommer, performance consultant for The Alliance, and Dawn Speak, administrative assistant in the athletic department; and agreed to hire Donna Bura, PSP recruiter and admissions counselor, and Rachel Holcomb, administrative assistant to the vice president of finance, and;

• Heard financial reports from Farnsworth.