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Butler Trustees conduct April meeting virtually

An entrance to Butler Community College in El Dorado
Published: Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

Board discusses expected 15% state tax revenue decrease

EL DORADO, Kan. – The regular session of the Butler Community College Board of Trustees met April 14 at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom, a virtual meeting platform. The college’s local cable channel, BCTV Channel 20, livestreamed the meeting via YouTube. 

Prior to the meeting, Dr. Kim Krull, Butler President, read procedural instructions and asked for everyone’s patience as the Board of Trustees and administration work to maintain meeting protocols in a virtual environment.

This month there were no recognitions by the Board and no public comments received. 

Under Standing Reports, Terry Sader, philosophy instructor and president of the Professionals Employees unit, briefly shared his appreciation of faculty efforts as well as that of the administration and staff, as everyone worked to respond to the needs of Butler students during the college’s transition to remote teaching in response to COVID-19.

Under the President’s Report, Dr. Krull also applauded everyone’s efforts. 

“The pandemic has consumed all of us and impacted everything. Everyone here has really rallied, and it has been amazing to watch,” she said. 

“More than 100 faculty stepped up to volunteer and work with other faculty to get everyone up to speed for the launch of all online classes. Butler has taught online for more than 20 years so we had a lot of excellence already established and that was good.”  

Krull recognized the efforts of all departments and noted the college’s Capital Outlay project and the work done on the Digital Transformation over the past two years was pivotal in positioning the institution for this unexpected set of circumstances.

Krull also shared the college administration is watching closely the developments at the state level related to COVID-19 funding and how those funds will be available for tuition and fee assistance for students in need. The state’s plans are not yet clear and, she added, the state is expecting a 15% decrease in tax revenues. 

Krull explained that could mean up to a $2 million deficit for Butler’s 2020-2021 budget.

"This is still a moving target for all of us and we are paying close attention to that. We will be working to address the budget and funding situation we may be faced with.” 

Under Board Strategic Discussion, the board heard an update from Dr. Krull regarding the status of the college’s Auto Collision Program. The administration proposed in March that the program be closed due to low enrollments and low projections in demand. Last month, in response to hearing public comments, the board directed President Krull to meet with the auto collision advisory board members for further dialogue about the program. Administration met with advisory board members on April 8 along with faculty and some current students of the program. History of the program and related revenue as well as enrollment numbers and labor demands were shared. Advisory board members discussed their support of the program, and questioned marketing and recruiting for the program.

The advisory board members asked if the college would put the program on a probationary status for one year. The program has lost revenue over the past several years. The program can accommodate 15 students in the program. The program has not been full for several years. 

The administration did not change their recommendation to the board and support the recommendation to close the program. Trustee Lance Lechtenberg asked that if there were a provisionary period, did the advisory board have any plan for what they might do to support the program? Lori Winningham, vice president of academics, said an advisory board member did offer to come and speak to students in the program. There were no financial or recruiting efforts noted to draw new enrollments. 

Winningham said she feels a probationary period was allotted in 2017 when the curriculum was redone to create a certificate program for students, which also did not generate higher enrollments.

Trustee Julie Winslow asked if there were any scholarships for the program. Currently, there are not any scholarships specifically for the program other than the general institutional scholarships that students qualify for.

“Unless there’s a completely different directive from the board, we would move forward with the decision to close the program,” Krull said.

Trustee Chair Jim Howell asked that the item be placed on the May agenda for action by the board. Winslow asked to see what the costs are for the program and the plan for the liquidable assets.

Dr. Krull added, “these decisions are really, really difficult, and take a lot of thought and consideration because it does impact employees, industry partners and students.” She added students currently in the program would be allowed to complete their certificate and/or degree.

This month there were no board action items. The board unanimously approved the Consent Agenda which included Bills and Warrants for March 2020 of $3,863,783.71 which included the expenditure of $1,259,892.22 and payroll of $2,603,891.49.

Board members went into executive session for 30 minutes for consultation with legal counsel not to exceed 60 minutes. The meeting was adjourned afterward with no action taken. Trustees will hold their May Board meeting virtually. The virtual meetings are livestreamed over BCTV Channel 20’s YouTube channel.