The Seward County Community College Board of Trustees met Monday to approve the fiscal 2008 budget with 26.134 mills, slightly less than the fiscal 2007 budget of 26.183 mills. This is the lowest mill levy for the college in five years. The board directed the administration to publish the budget prior to the August board meeting.
The assessed valuation for Seward County showed a $6,589,077 decrease due primarily to machinery and equipment property tax exemption and decreased oil and gas value.
The strong cash position of the college, however, allows the college to maintain the present mill levy.
“We could jeopardize some opportunities in the future if we don’t maintain the budget at the present level,” said Dr. Duane Dunn, SCCC president.
Included in the budget is a 4 percent wage and salary increase, $250,000 in capital equipment requests; $300,000 to the cash reserves; federal match of $50,000 for the Adult Basic Education Grant; a $183,000 window glazing project for energy savings; anticipated costs associated with a Southwest Kansas Technical School merger; and repairs and improvements to buildings.
The board approved program reviews for the Nursing and Criminal Justice programs with the next formal reviews scheduled for five years. Each program will submit an annual review.
The Nursing Department has strengthened the academic requirements of its program to encourage students to perform at a higher level. Pass rates of SCCC students who take the required National Council Licensure Examination have consistently met or exceeded the program outcome during the past five years. In addition, these rates have traditionally exceeded the national and state pass rates of other colleges.
To further strengthen the program, Steve Hecox, director of nursing, said the nursing staff needs to begin development of online courses and increase the use of technology. Currently selected courses are provided in a hybrid format of face-to-face instruction and online assignments.
Presently, both nursing programs accept 30 students into the program and the college is not looking to expand those numbers, Hecox said. Two of the greatest challenges are finding and keeping qualified nursing faculty and ensuring enough clinical facilities for the program.
The Criminal Justice program is the only program in Kansas that offers Ethics in Criminal Justice as well as a degree in Fish and Wildlife Management. In addition, the program offers a degree with a community corrections emphasis.
Among the concerns are low enrollment and scheduling of adjunct faculty. In addition, the program needs to move forward by providing more online courses. The program presently offers some criminal justice courses through EduKan.
One of the ongoing challenges is encouraging local law enforcement to obtain higher education degrees.
The board also reviewed three ongoing goals of the journalism program. One goal is to improve the transfer of journalism courses to Kansas colleges and universities. A second goal is to improve recruiting of high school students. The journalism program has become a part of the Xtreme Challenge competition for high school students. This has served as a great recruiting tool for the program.
The program also plans to conduct a feasibility study to determine the need for a TV/radio broadcast program. The board recommended that the program look at transferability to specific Oklahoma and Texas schools as well.
“The lines between print and radio/TV are becoming more and more blurred.”, said Anita Reed, journalism instructor. The student who has education and experience that crosses mediums is going to be ahead when he or she begins looking for a job.
The board elected Jo Ann Sharp as board chair; Ron Oliver, vice chair; Dr. Duane M. Dunn, board clerk/secretary; Tina Call, treasurer; and Mike Brond, assistant treasurer.
Board committees for the coming year will include Jo Ann Sharp, Association of Community College Trustees representative; Ron Oliver, Alumni and Friends Association; Dr. Steve Cauble, AQIP Steering Team; Oliver, Sharp, Deb Weilert and legal counsel, Board Policy; Leo Riley and Marvin Chance Jr., Budget/Finance; Sharon Hobble and Sharp, SCCC Development Foundation representatives; Riley, Hobble and legal counsel, Insurance; Chance and Cauble, Interim Board; and Cauble, Seward County Council of Governments. In addition, Chance is the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees representative with Cauble as alternate one and Sharp as alternate two.
Associate dean Dale Reed announced that the college will host the deans and directors of continuing education and community service, Oct. 4-5. Reed also provided an overview of Kids College activities. Cynthia Rapp, dean of instruction, provided the board with information related to inservice activities scheduled for Aug. 13-17 including primary presenters Dr. Thomas Brown, who will focus on advising and student achievement, and Dr. Richard Paul, who will focus on critical thinking skills and assessment.
Trustee Marvin Chance, Jr. provided the board with information from his participation in a recent Association of Community College Trustees governance leadership conference. Workshops addressed issues related to board policy development, long-range planning, and national issues related to internal financial audits.
Tommy Williams, dean of administrative services and Dr. Duane Dunn, president, are representatives on the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees committee to recommend a revision in state aid disbursement. Dunn announced the committee will convene this week to begin the review. Additionally, Dunn and Williams participate in an informational session with the Kansas Department of Revenue regarding recent legislation allowing colleges to provide tax credits for use in facility repairs and improvements.
In other action, the board
1. hired Jessica Murphy and Molly Belt as admissions coordinators and Celeste Donovan as dean of student services;
2. approved the present policy on nondiscrimination that will be published as a legal notice in the Southwest Daily Times and the Liberal Light;
3. approved the Facility Usage Fee Schedule for 2007-08 with the same fee structure; and
4. approved a contract with Kerry McQueen of Sharp McQueen, P.A. for fiscal 2008 with a monthly retainer of $1,800.
5. approved a payment to Walt Ediger in the amount of $1,321.47 to help offset costs associated with his CRP contract with the United States Department of Agriculture on land recently purchased by SCCC. The college is a non-eligible entity to participate in CRP contracts.
The next board meeting, which will be the public hearing on the 2008 published budget, will be at 12 noon, Monday, Aug. 6. Fall 2007 evening classes begin Aug. 20 and day classes Aug. 21. The September board meeting will be at 7:30 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 4 since the campus will be closed Labor Day, Monday, Sept. 3.