ECDC Environmental appears to have spared college scholarships for high school graduates in East Carbon from the chopping block.
Members of the city council and representatives of the disposal corporation indicated Tuesday that they are working on an agreement that would keep the scholarships for students rolling in and at the same time reduce financial strain on the company.
Representatives of ECDC indicated at the May 23 East Carbon City Council meeting that the scholarships have been on the list of possible cuts for the company.
When ECDC was created in the 1990s, part of the agreement set up with the city was that students who graduated from East Carbon High School would receive a scholarship to any school in the state for at least a year as long as the youth maintained a 2.5 grade point average.
With the closure of East Carbon High and dropping revenues at ECDC, the company has added the scholarship program to its list of cuts that could save the company money.
"We are looking at cutting the scholarship program," said Jeff Green, a representative of ECDC.
Green explained that it is not the intent of the company to hurt students who graduated from East Carbon High. Rather, ECDC is looking for ways to reduce expenses while revenues are lower.
In the process of cutting back financial expenditures, Green explained that the scholarship program has been one of the last items to be placed on the company's chopping block.
Employees have already been laid off at the landfill operation and other budget cuts have been made by the waste disposal company, continued the ECDC representative.
Green reminded residents that the low tonnage of waste has reduced revenues to the company.
At the same time, reduced tippage fees have meant lower revenues for the city and the county.
ECDC was trying its best to be good members of the community and not leave a negative impact in East Carbon, noted Green.
Under the previous scholarship program, all East Carbon High graduates received the scholarship.
Students who were residents of Price, Helper, Wellington or Carbon County at large and graduated from East Carbon High School were eligible for the scholarships.
A revised scholarship program supports eliminating the expenditures for non-resident students.
As parents of potential scholarship recipients met with city and company officials, all parties agreed that the bar for participation in the program could be raised.
Rikele Palmer, a resident of East Carbon, explained that she had been involved in the discussion process with ECDC and the city in an effort to keep the program running.
The company outlined a series of requirements for students, which Palmer presented to council.
First, ECDC indicated that the company wished to raise the GPA requirement to a 3.0.
Under the former program, students who failed to meet the GPA requirements were placed on probation for one semester.
The students placed on probation would be cut from the scholarship program if they failed to meet the requirements the following semester.
ECDC recommended dropping the probation portion and eliminate students immediately who fail to make grades.
High school students would be required to enroll in college to attend the next regular semester after graduation.
Graduates who serve religious callings like missions or enlist in the military would be granted a deferment for the duration of their service.
But upon returning to the local area, graduates who had scholarships deferred must enroll in college for the next regular semester.
In keeping with the closure of the high school, another change is that students who receive the scholarships must be residents of East Carbon.
In addition, students must enroll in 15 hours at the college or university they attend. Under the previous program, students were only required to enroll in 12 hours.
That change met with opposition from councilmembers Darlene Kuhns, Darma Lopez and Joyce Caviness.
All three East Carbon City officials felt that 12 hours or full-time status was satisfactory.
Green pointed out that, in his discussion with officials at the College of Eastern Utah, he was led to believe that scholarship recipients are generally required to enroll in courses totalling 15 credit hours.
Students under the previous ECDC scholarship structure received both tuition and fees.
Under the proposal by the company, the funding would be reduced to just tuition.
Last year, the average cost for tuition and fees was more than $990 per semester.
Under the changes proposed, the cost to ECDC would drop to $874.
The proposal also addressed the need to receive transcripts from students in a timely manner.
Rather than allowing East Carbon's high school graduates weeks or months to provide transcripts showing satisfactory completion of courses, the students would be required to provide records to ECDC within 14 days of the end of the semester.
One final change in the existing scholarship program was the amount in funding that would be provided by the company.
Scholarship funding would be limited to $16,000. That figure would provide scholarships to approximately nine students for two semesters each.
Since the scholarship program was instituted in the 1990s, 272 students have benefited from the funds.
Last year, ECDC funded 13 students, at a cost of approximately $11,000.
Councilmembers Joe Maggio and Jeff Manley excluded themselves from discussion on the matter, as they have direct ties to ECDC which could present a conflict of interest.