Board of Trustees will expand to seven, pending research, public election

January meeting includes board organization, first review of accreditation process, and restructuring of the Wellness Center/Athletic Training staff

The Seward County Community College Board of Trustees will likely expand to a seven-person panel in the next year, following a unanimous vote at the first meeting of 2019.

“We’ve talked about this for a few years, and I’d like to get a decision from the board tonight,” said Chair Ron Oliver. “Things are going well, and that is the time to address something like this.”

When the state of Kansas established two-year colleges, then known as “junior colleges,” the standard structure required a six-member board. Oliver and Chance noted this sometimes resulted in evenly split votes that in turn divided communities.

“Over my 27 years on the board, we’ve only had a few tied votes, but nothing major,” Oliver said. “In the future, it would be good to avoid that possibility, as we have seen with some other colleges.”

Longtime trustee and vice chair Marvin Chance Jr. made the motion, seconded by John Engel, to move ahead with establishing a seven-member board.

“This is just a decision by this body to move ahead,” Oliver said, noting the process involves several legal requirements. Board counsel Kerry McQueen will research and report to the trustees about the particular details, which will include official, legal notification for the public of the new structure, and selection of a trustee by voters as part of the regular election process.

For the new calendar year, the board reviewed offices and committee assignments, with no changes made. Oliver remains chair, Chance is vice-chair, college president Dr. Ken Trzaska remains clerk/secretary, community members Tina Call and Mike Brond serve as college treasurer and assistant, and trustee John Engel will be the official voting designee at the American Association of Community College Trustees.

The college appears to be on track for renewal of its accreditation by the Higher Learning Commission. Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Todd Carter said the first response to the HLC portfolio the college submitted in October was largely positive.

“The review we received lists us as compliant, meeting the criteria with some areas for improvement,” Carter said. “The next step will be for us to dig into the areas where they noted we can improve, and address how we have followed up.” When the commission visits in October, he said, “they will want to verify that we’ve made those improvements. So far, we’re in good shape.”

Carter said the college also received approval from KBOR for performance measures that had initially been recorded as lower than expected.

“There is an appeal process, and I took it to them to show that in comparison, we are at or above the measures reported by our peer colleges,” Carter said. As a result, the college was granted a 90-percent potential funding approval for any new funds that might be allocated by the state. Although this would only happen if  the Kansas Legislature released further funding, Carter noted the approval is valuable in terms of accurately reflecting the college’s performance.

“If they provide funding, we are eligible to receive the highest amount they grant,” he said.

To continue reading the complete news release about the January BoT meeting, visit the archive page, here. 

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