SCCC Board closes fiscal year, purchases bus, approves faculty contracts

At their last meeting for the 2018-19 fiscal year, SCCC trustees Ron Oliver, Marvin Chance, Jr., John Engel, Stacy Johnson, Casey Mein, and Dustin Ormiston attended to year-end finances and project reports, approval of next year’s contract with instructors, insurance, and construction funding.

Athletes at Seward County Community College will travel in a new bus, thanks to purchase approval by the board of trustees at the June 24 meeting. The decision marked the conclusion of several years’ efforts to extend the working life of the fleet’s two aging buses, one of which is shared with the Liberal Bee Jays. Over the past two years, Saints teams have weathered breakdowns and transportation limits, which affects not only athletic performance, but student safety.

“One of our key directions is a safe and secure campus, and that extends to Saints athletes on the road,” said SCCC President, Dr. Ken Trzaska. “In that context, we have to prioritize the well-being of students over the expenditure.”

Following discussion with considerable input from trustee Stacy Johnson, who also serves as the transportation director for USD 480, the board voted unanimously to accept the bid of $341,000 from MCI Of Dallas.

While the bid was not the lowest in dollars, the bus itself is a year newer, and comes with lower mileage.

The board also discussed approval processes for the FFE (interior furnishings and fittings) for the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health. Vice President of Finance and Operations Dennis Sander explained that various outside factors have the potential to delay completion of the building if the routine, three-bid process is followed for FFE purchases.

“For our SIM lab, we already have the medical manikins, but there are other elements that will need to be put in place. I am asking that we waive the bid part so that I can go out, get competitive quotes, and then make sure it is viable, and go ahead and do that, rather than waiting for the July board meeting,” he said. With long delivery times, the potential for tariffs on Chinese imports, and the ordinary time frame for construction and installation, Sander said, it is possible “students would not have use of parts of the facility in time for classes.”

In discussion, trustee Chance specified his wish that as much of the furniture and fixtures as possible be re-used from the current building.

“Im OK using  five to 10 year old desks,” he said. “I don’t expect to see a new building with all new furniture in it. Not everything is transferable, but use what we have, when we can.”

Sander agreed, adding that wiring for Blendflex classrooms is one of the elements he feels concern about, as well as emergency speakers, telephones, projectors, and the like.

“We would be bidding out a total of something around $400,000,” he said. “When I have competitive quotes, I would then come to you and ask for approval.”

Chance noted that he would expect to convene, even if it was phone, to vote for board approval of such large expenditures. He also noted that, whenever possible, he preferred to see local contractors sought for electrical and other work.

After much discussed, the board voted unanimous to “take under advisement the Administrative recommendation that the Board of find it in the best interest of the College not to seek bids for needed furniture, fixtures, and equipment (FF&E) for the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health, but authorized Administration to seek competitive quotes for said FF&E and bring the matter back to the Board at a special meeting for the Board’s consideration of the Administrative recommendation and the prioritization of the FF&E expenditures.” The motion was made by John Engel and seconded by Casey Mien.

The Board reviewed the personnel report which indicated hiring of the following employees:

  • Lori Muntz, English Instructor, effective August 8, 2019;
  • Laci Furr, Director of Bookstore, effective July 1, 2019;
  • Dan Artamenko, Director of Athletics, effective July 15, 2019;
  • Eric Volden, Director of Admissions, effective July 15, 2019;
  • Joseph McCann, Vice President of Academic Affairs, effective August 1, 2019;

The board also accepted resignations from Lindsay Tuman, Director of the Library; Jessica Nelson, Assistant Softball Coach; Pei-Yi Highfill, Adult Learning Center Instructor; Tanya Dowell, Director of Human Resources; Scott Lickteig, Drafting and Design Instructor; and Paul Pulley, Assistant Baseball Coach.

Al Shank of Al Shank Insurance provided information about insurance renewal rates for the period July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020.

“The news is not great this year, but I guess we all knew we would get it with the weather that we’ve all been facing,” Shank said. More than 4,000 tornadoes were reported in US this year, so far, and while Liberal has not seen a twister, the effect has rippled through insurance pools.

“We’re seeing about a 15 percent overall increase in cost, mainly for property insurance increases,” he said. “Part of that is the Colvin Family Allied Health Center, and the Champions Center will be added when it begins construction. Property insured is $85M total, up from $78M last year. But keep in mind, this is not just something that SCCC is experiencing — it’s across the industry for community colleges.”

Fewer vehicles in the college fleet — 62 this year, down from 73 last year — brought modest savings. Coverage for musical instruments, athletic equipment, and a newly-donated art collection was bundled in as part of the college’s standard coverage with no special cost increases.

Vice President Marvin Chance Jr. moved that the board approve the renewal of insurance policies and premiums as presented and was seconded by Dustin Ormiston. The motion carried 6-0.

Vice President Sander provided a proposed agreement from Billings of Byron Bird and Associates, Chartered of Liberal, Kansas, to perform the fiscal year 2019 independent annual audit.  Dustin Ormiston, with a second from Casey Mein, moved that the Board accept the proposal not to exceed $33,000.

Trzaska presented a request from the SCCC Foundation that the college accept the donation of art from the Colvin family. The Board was provided an itemized list and valuation of the donated works and minimal stipulations requested by the Colvin family. The collection, valued at $107,800.00, will be displayed at various locations across campus. The motion made by John Engel, seconded by Dustin Ormiston, carried unanimously.

President Trzaska provided details regarding the Board negotiations committee’s contract negotiations with the SCCC Professional Employees Association’s negotiating committee. The negotiated Memorandum of Understanding was provided for review.

“Thanks to Jared Noble, Heather Hannah, Nick Noterman, Darin Hook, and the whole team that worked to create this,” he said. “There is an Addendum that refers to the auto tech instructor at a higher rate of pay.” Trzaska noted that the position has been open for approximately two years, which galvanized PEA and the college to make an exception to the usual pay framework.

Other notable details outline by Trzaska included a long-term hope expressed by PEA that the board explore expansion of contributions to retirement fund matching, continue work on the Compease stepped-pay increase system, and continue looking for cost reduction for family insurance plans.

“These continue to be a priorities for Administration,” Trzaska noted, “and we will continue our approach of looking for the best options for the SCCC team.”

The Board approved the PEA negotiated MOU as presented following a motion made by Stacy Johnson and seconded by John Engel.

In other business, the board:

  • Approved purchase of the hardware/software products exclusive to the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health’s simulation lab from CAE Healthcare, Inc., at a total price of $106,690.28, pending legal review of hardware software agreement.
  • Approved the purchase of camera equipment from TCB Technologies in an amount not to exceed $119,519.
  • Heard reports from the executive team and Mover Team members as noted below.

Enrollment numbers hold their own, reflect low unemployment 

Dean of Students Annette Hackbarth-Onson, who leads the Enrollment Management mover group, provided an annual summary at the end-of-fiscal-year SCCC Board meeting June 24. With new admissions director Eric Volden, Hackbarth-Onson noted, “we are making some changes to emphasize academic advising as a continuation of recruiting.” She likened the two areas to a relay handoff.  Other new areas of focus include adult and nontraditional, EduKan, and concurrent high school students.

Unlike many of its two-year counterparts across the state, SCCC’s enrollment has not seen a dramatic dip in numbers. Current enrollment at the midsummer point shows enrollment as “roughly flat,” Hackbarth-Onson said,  in terms of continuing enrollment. New freshman are down 5 percent, which may be due to the local, extremely low unemployment rate.

“This also indicates a need for flexibility, which means our online offerings are important, especially for our part-time students, who are combining full-time work with continuing their education,” she said.

“Our Hispanic student population continues to grow, and was up by 24% this year,” she said. Because many of these students are first in their families to attend college, training with a first generation focus “made a good impact on SCCC team and is supporting our students along the way.”

Campus safety relies on preventive technology, drills, and the personal touch

Security Supervisor Wendall Wehmeier, head of the Safety and Security mover group, provided an annual summary update of ongoing and new measures taken on campus. The 12-member committee put in place regular tests for the campus RAVE alert system, which combines loudspeaker announcements, text messages and email alerts for staff and students. Emergency operations plans were reviewed, updated, and formatted as portable flip charts for display around campus.

Wehmeier carried out numerous fire drills in the dorms, staged a mock emergency “gas leak” drill, and visited individual departments to review tornado safety protocols and the college’s alcohol and drug use policies.

“For the big topics, like concealed carry and active shooter situations, we are working with Liberal Police Department,” he said.

Improved outdoor lighting and security camera systems across campus have further enhanced security, Wehmeier said.

Common ground, love of food strengthens inclusiveness efforts

PR & Marketing Director Rachel Coleman, who leads the Inclusivity and Civility mover team, provided an annual summary update about the group’s efforts to increase connection and communication between the many groups on campus. She said the highlight of the year was the “Taste of Kansas” potluck hosted on Kansas Day, Jan. 29, 2019. The event drew more than 200 participants and served food from 10 cultures, from chili and cinnamon rolls to an entire table of authentic Mexican delicacies.

“We learned a lot this year by focusing on what people have in common, and where we naturally come together, rather than going back to talking about diversity and equal rights,” Coleman said. “People are a little weary of that speech, despite the fact that it takes intentional effort to build bridges across differences. But it’s a fact that everybody loves a good meal.”

Other highlights included increased involvement in long-standing community events, from Pancake Day to Cinco de Mayo and Juneteenth; successful participation in the Kansas Civil Rights audit, which passed with flying colors; and an international student panel discussion and professional development training with inclusiveness expert Blane Harding.

“At the end of the year, we can list all these projects and tell you how many people attended, but the reality is that we are running a marathon here, as Dr. Carter likes to say, because we are working with people and focusing on relationships,” she said. “Our hope is to expand our efforts next year to draw in more student participation, now that we have our own oxygen masks on.”

Firefighting, internships, online delivery expand SCCC’s offerings

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Todd Carter, Academic Transformation mover team head, provided an annual summary update about the group’s ongoing efforts to expand SCCC’s academic delivery methods. Blendflex, the college’s in-house platform for classes that can be attended online or in person, serves as a great example of how the college has grown, he said.

“This has really strengthened our ability to deliver courses to high schools in our service area that need help,” he said. Building on that, “we are working on many more.”

A grant application to the National Science Foundation to radically expand the corrosion technology program, was approved in June, and will run through 2022, Carter said.

The residential firefighter program has gotten off to a great start, with student volunteers responding to more than 130 call-outs over the academic year.

“The county fire department is happy about how that program is shaping up,” he said.

Other highlights of the academic transformation team’s work include focused attention on industry partnerships and internship opportunities across a wide variety of agriculture and technical programs.

Kids’ camps take over SCCC Athletics this summer

Mike Davidson, SCCC Director of Athletics, provided an update that spanned from “not a whole lot going on” in Saints athletics to “what feels like 50,000 kids running around the gym,” he said. “The July 4 weekend is the only time the gym isn’t being used.”

Davidson noted the video boards promote SCCC in the background of basketball and volleyball team and individual camps.

Looking forward, Saints Athletics savored its honors, from Men’s Basketball Coach Jason Sautter’s KBCA Coach of the Year award to the inclusion of women’s basketball player Destiny Alston of Forgan in the all-star game in North Carolina this summer.

“Recruiting continues on many fronts,” Davidson said. “We will have our new AD, Dan Artamenko, here by the middle of July. We lost a softball coach, and an assistant baseball coach. We are going to start over with our sports information director position.”

Student-athlete recruiting has gone well, Davidson said, “and we’ll be back to 110 team members in all this fall.”

As he wraps up a years as interim AD, Davidson said he’s eager to get back to baseball with his full attention.

“Thank you for doing a tremendous job filling in with double duty,” said SCCC President, Dr. Ken Trzaska. “We truly appreciate your leadership and helping us get a lot done this year.”

Seaboard partnership brings $170,000 to SCCC classes

Chief Development Officer Tano Tovilla brought details about the recently-signed agreement with Seaboard Foods.

“They’ll be giving us those funds over five years, by paying tuition for their employees,” he said. “It’s a great opportunity for both entities and the individuals who will benefit.”

Tovilla also noted several prospective donors who are mulling over naming opportunities connected to the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health.

“We will be listing those opportunities soon, which is something donors are really interested in, and we are also working on our top 10 prospects for Phase 2 of the Champions Center.”

Executive Team reports cover accreditation, board appointments

Chief Information Officer Lemert noted his progress on GLBA security compliance, which is currently focused on infrastructure issues. He is close to hiring a person for the new position in his department.

Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan noted that “in my area, everyone is updating material for fall.” After many vacancies across her area of responsibility, Donovan said, “all positions but two are filled, which is exciting.” The dorms are around half-full at this point, and she anticipates more as the athletic teams complete recuiting and the start of the semester nears.

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Todd Carter, provided an update on the Higher Learning Commission accreditation process. Overall, he said, “we are in pretty good shape for our October site visit.”

Vice President of Finance and Operations Dennis Sander told the board that while the Colvin Family Center for Allied Health is slightly behind schedule, the building will be ready for students to use as the semester begins.

“They may do some touch-up work after that. We won’t have drills running in class, but they will need access,” he said, adding that Coonrod Construction project manager Bob Austin and his crew “are really good contractors, and are doing a great job.”

Sander reported that he was re-elected as president of the state organization KACCRO.

President Trzaska thanked Carter for his long service to SCCC.

“This is his last board meeting, and I want to thank him publicly, and wish you all the very best,” he said.

Trzaska reported that he was elected to serve as the president for the Council of Presidents, a statewide organization. The post will require him to attend all KBOR meetings, and other retreats and provide an opportunity to advocate for the continuance of SB155 and other policies favorable to SCCC.

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