New Board Officers, New Early College AG Pathway Approved
Trustees elect 2021 board officers, approve Early College Academy in Agriculture for Douglass High School
Trustees elected board officers and designated committee assignments for 2021 during their regular monthly board meeting held Jan. 4. Trustees voted unanimously to have Lance Lechtenberg (District 3) serve as board chair with Doug Law (District 2) serve as vice chair. Forrest Rhodes (District 3) will serve as secretary/treasurer.
Committee appointments are as follows:
Kansas Association of Community College Trustees Delegate: Mary Martha Good (at large)
Board Finance Committee: Doug Law, Shelby Smith (District 2)
Foundation Board Liaison: Forrest Rhodes
Educational Facilities Authority Board: Jim Howell (District 1), Doug Law, Julie Winslow (District 1) as alternate
Capital Projects Team: Doug Law, Julie Winslow
Under Action Items, the board approved the addition of an Agriculture pathway within the Early College Academy (ECA) at Douglass High School. The AG ECA will launch in August. The Early College Academy provides area high school juniors and seniors the opportunity to earn an Associate of Applied Science degree in Agriculture from Butler by the time they graduate high school. Ag classes will be taught at Douglass High School while general education courses for the pathway will be offered in either remote or online formats.
The ECA AG pathway will allow high school students to complete their high school requirements in the morning and their college ECA classes from noon to 3 p.m. Students are admitted to Butler’s ECA program through an application and interview process.
Rob Reynolds, Douglass Superintendent, said, “This is something we’ve been talking about for well over a year and a half.” He added a group of ag producers in the Douglass area are very supportive of the program and of the potential to train students for a growing and expanding AG industry.
“It's been eye-opening to see the benefits of the transferability for the kids,” Reynolds said.
Most of Butler’s Ag students transfer to Kansas State, Oklahoma University, or Texas A&M. The Ag Academy builds upon the already established and highly successful agricultural program at Butler.
In other action, the board approved the contract for Brandon Leach. He will step in as the college’s lead instructor for the new Construction Technology program to launch in August.
Dr. Esam Mohammad, associate vice president of Research and Institutional Effectiveness, and President Kim Krull, Ph.D., discussed a recent study conducted by EMSI. The study looks at the economic impact of Butler Community College on the 10-county region in southcentral Kansas which is the institution’s primary market. EMSI, a nationally recognized economic analysis partner for higher education, reviews three main areas in its impact studies: college operations, student spending, and alumni impact.
A few of the highlights from the study (based on data from fiscal 2018-2019) include:
- $42.9 million is spent by the college in the region.
- 12% of credit students originated from outside the region and some moved to the primary market to attend Butler. In doing so, they generated $21.3 million in added income for the regional economy (i.e., groceries accommodations, transportation, and other household expenses)
- In total, Butler added $387.1 million in income to the Butler primary market.
- Alumni impact, the productivity of Butler graduates who stay in the region and contribute to the economy, totaled $322.9 million.
- Butler supports essentially 6,311 jobs (1 in every 67 jobs is supported by Butler’s economic impact).
Additional internal review of the data suggests that the direct impact to Butler County alone is more than $46 million dollars, thus providing a return of at least $2.88 for every dollar invested in the college by Butler County taxpayers.
Trustees discussed the Culinary program and the faculty vacancies which occurred in the late fall semester. The culinary classes all now have instructors. Trustees discussed the potential outlook for the industry and the impact of the pandemic, and agreed they expect it to bounce back.
President Krull publicly addressed a question of transparency by two board members. Trustees Julie Winslow and Shelby Smith spoke with a Kansas Sentinel reporter regarding their concerns of a lack of transparency at the college, and that they were told they needed to file an open records request for information they wanted. The Kansas Sentinel is a publication for the Kansas Policy Institute.
The following statement was sent to the Kansas Sentinel and President Krull read it in the open meeting:
“We have never suggested, requested nor required a Kansas Open Records request for information from any Butler Community College Trustee. Nor do we plan to. Any and all information requested by members of our Trustees has been and will be provided subject to legal limitations, e.g., college employees' rights to privacy. Butler Community College believes in transparency and in providing any Trustee with the information they request so that they may, in good faith, best serve the functions of their elected office.”
Krull added, “Sometimes when the information requests come in, we don’t have that information right at hand and so it takes us awhile to put it together. We want to make sure that we always provide accurate information. . .”
In order to perform their elected duties, the college provides all Trustees with access to the college’s Microsoft Office solutions including SharePoint, a document library which is a collaborative and transparent work environment. Trustee Winslow has noted repeated issues accessing SharePoint. Therefore, in hopes of alleviating the technological issues, Krull explained, that the college’s IT Department is ordering auto-connected devices which would allow for seamless access to the college work environments and files in SharePoint. Their current laptops will be recycled back into classrooms.
In addition, Trustees Winslow and Smith say they are frustrated with the time various requests for information have taken and then also, with the information they receive. For example, Winslow asked for four years of insurance policies but was unsatisfied with the overall number of individual documents supplied, though she was provided exactly what the college had received from the insurance company.
More discussion on this topic will be held at the February Board meeting when Trustees will be set up with their new devices.
Bills and Warrants for December 2020 were approved at $2,804,057.48 (includes expenditures at $766,470.87 and Payroll $2,037,586.61.)
Under the Consent Agenda, Trustees ratified the following contracts:
- Workforce Alliance agreement for Workforce Innovation Opportunity Act (WIOA) funding. Butler has been selected to provide workforce preparation activities and training, and transition to post-secondary education and training. The program offers testing for out-of-school youth to earn a GED or recognized certification.
- 2020-2021 Concurrent Enrollment Partnership (CEP) agreements with area school districts including USD 385 Andover/Andover Central, USD 402 Augusta, USD 205 Bluestem, USD 375 Circle, USD 396 Douglass, USD 490 El Dorado, USD 389 Eureka, USD 408 Marion, and USD 394 Rose Hill.
The January Board of Trustee meeting and full discussion can be viewed on BCTV20 via www.youtube.com.