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Future OCTV could include schools

December 07, 2011 - The direction Oxford Community Television (OCTV) could take in the wake of station manager/executive director Don Hueguerich's firing last week ranges from simply hiring a replacement to collaborating with the Oxford school district.

To examine these options, the Oxford Area Cable Communications Commission last week created a search committee consisting of commissioners Chris Bishop, Sue Bossardet and Charles Kniffen.

Commissioner Jack Gray, a middle school teacher who represents Oxford Community Schools, told the board that the district is interested in developing some sort of cooperative relationship with OCTV.

"I think the schools would like to be involved," he said. "I've heard from administration in several different ways that there is interest in forging a new relationship, a different kind of relationship. And I would like to see that happen."

Gray explained to his fellow commissioners that the school district "would be open to, if we're going in a new direction, reinventing the way this (station) looks and maybe housing it in the schools."

Up until early 2004, OCTV's station was housed inside the old Oxford High School off Lakeville Rd.

However, when the district transformed the old high school into the current middle school, its remodeling plans did not include any space to house the station there or at the new high school.

The station was forced to move out and lease commercial space at 1775 N. Lapeer Rd.

Gray said it's ultimately up to the commission if it wishes to explore developing a relationship with the school district.

"I'm not sure what most of the commission wants to do with this, but I feel like I want to look more at the big picture than the fine details of the employee handbook right now," he said.

With regard to Gray's suggestion, Bishop believes the commission "should have a conversation about it."

"Obviously, if there's no sharing of cost and we can't save money, then it doesn't make sense for this commission to do (it)," he said.

Bishop liked the idea of picking school officials' brains when it comes to finding a new station manager.

"Perhaps, we could express to the schools an interest in them helping us develop what we may want the executive director (position) to look like," he said. "Maybe we don't have to pay the full funding (for) an executive director. Maybe we can share something with the schools. Maybe we can't. But we certainly should talk to them about it."

Bishop noted the district "spends a lot of money researching (and) hiring experts all the time"

"The school is an instution that hires a lot of professionals every year," he said.

Bossardet said she would like to see Superintendent Dr. William Skilling come before the commission and explain "what he envisions and what he could do for us, what his ideas are or what they would like to do with it."

Bossardet noted she also wants to contact other cable community access stations to obtain copies of their manager's job descriptions and employment contracts.

With regard to this discussion, Huegerich issued two "warnings for the future" to the commission.

The first was any individual seeking to be the new station manager or executive director for OCTV will expect to be paid "way beyond" what Huegerich received.

"They will not work for what you pay," he said.

Huegerich earned $31,200 annually (or $15 per hour) plus benefits. He said a new manager or director will expect anywhere from $55,000 to $70,000 annually plus benefits.

"I did not get a raise for 10 years," Huegerich noted. "I received some other benefits, but no raise. It was never discussed. I was never evaluated yearly to be given a raise."

The other warning was with regard to the school district, which even though it has two votes on the cable commission, contributes zero funding to it unlike Oxford Township and Village, Addison Township and the Village of Leonard.

"One-third of our budget goes to do school events, which we have not had any help on in 10 years," Huegerich said. "I would beware of any offers from a group that has not really come through for you."

CJ Carnacchio is editor for The Oxford Leader. He lives in the Village of Oxford with his wife Connie and daughter Larissa. When he's not busy working on the newspaper, he enjoys cigars/pipes, Martinis/Scotch, hunting and fishing.
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