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SCCC Board Looks at Possibility of Using Former Elementary School Building

Joe Denoyer - May 4, 2017 1:00 pm

As the 2016-17 academic year draws to a close, the trustees of Seward County Community College are looking ahead to how the next two years are likely to unfold. A capital campaign project that includes construction of an Allied Health addition to the Hobble Academic Building could cause various areas on campus to shuffle spaces —and that, in light of the many changes at USD 480 in Liberal, creates an array of options for expansion and relocation. The board discussed several possibilities at the regular monthly meeting Monday night. 

“We’re looking at Washington Elementary School as a potential property for the Colvin Adult Learning Center, and we’d like to look at whether it is feasible for the college to take this on,” said Dr. Ken Trzaska in the information-only presentation. SCCC Director of Adult Education and Interim Dean of Industrial Technology, Travis Combs, provided additional information, thanks to his role as a member of the USD 480 Board. 

The college’s adult learning center currently serves between 500 and 600 students each year, and runs four classrooms with around 40 students each, in three separate time slots each day. 

“If you had more space, would you run more classes?” Board Chair Ron Oliver asked Combs. 

“If we had the money and could do it, yes,” said Combs. “All four classrooms are full every day, all three sessions, and more space would allow us to break down our classes to 20 students — so we would look at adding three additional classes.”

Trustee Dustin Ormiston reminded the board of the expensive issue of asbestos removal. Large-scale renovating in the outdated elementary school could become more costly than building new space from the ground up, noted vice-chair Marvin Chance Jr. 

“My head tells me to tear it down and build something new on that land, rather than try to take the old walls and electricity,” he said. “I think you need the space. I just think there are probably cheaper options to give you space.”

“As dated as it is, it’s better than what we have,” said Combs. Trzaska agreed the issue is worth considering and asked the board for specific questions they would like him to answer. Issues listed included windows, asbestos, the cost of demolition, maintenance, insurance, and the condition of the electrical system. With the relocation of Allied Health to the main campus within the next two years, it’s possible the two entities could “trade” the college’s Epworth building for the district’s elementary school building, in order for USD 480 to bring all Central Office functions into one location. 

“I’ll come back with more of a feasibility analysis, really dig in a little more and see what this looks like,” Trzaska said. The board will re-examine the possibility of utilizing Washington School in a future meeting. 

The board approved the first reading of the weapons policy introduced at the April meeting. 

“The policy is grounded in what we have seen happening in other community colleges in the state,” Trzaska said. “It will need to go into effect July 1, when the state statute [allowing concealed carry on college campuses] goes into effect.”

Safety and Security Director Dennis Mulanax emphasized that the new policy applies only to concealed carry. 

“We are not going to be allowing open carry on campus,” he said. “And, there is no liability brought to the college through this. Firearms carrying is a strict liability for the owner/carrier.” Mulanax said he expects to have gun safes installed in the dorm housing environment before the start of the new academic year. 

“We will also be figuring out how to deal with situations,” he said. “For example, if you’ve got a professor that says, ‘during finals, the only thing you can bring in to the classroom is your writing implements,’ and the student is carrying a backpack with a weapon concealed, you can’t just leave them laying in the hall.” New trustee Stacy Johnson, who has worked as a law enforcement officer, asked if the college could set up an “unloading station” for such situations. Mulanax said he’s exploring several options.

The board approved the purchase of new computers and tablets for the annual technology updates. Chief Information Officer J.J. Widener said the purchases will allow for 43 work stations in the computer lab, and provide several “rugged” laptops for use in Industrial Technology programs. 

In other business, the board addressed several routine issues, including acceptance of the personnel report. Communications and Theater Instructor Gloria Goodwin submitted her resignation. Garrett Case was hired as the assistant volleyball coach, and Jason Sautter was hired as the men’s basketball coach. Applications are currently being accepted for the following full-time positions: diesel technology instructor, KSBDC Dodge City Business Consultant, and admissions/recruiting coordinator; and the following part-time positions: nursing clinical instructor, safety and security officer, and summer agricultural intern. 

The board also approved an update to the organizational structure, as outlined in Board Policy Series 301. In order to align more closely with peer institutions, the College Executive Team recognized the need to change the position title of “Director of Counseling, Advising, and Career Services,” which is currently held by Mariah Cline, to “Dean of Student Services.”

“This is a lateral shift, similar to the changes we made in recategorizing directors as executive directors last year,” said Trzaska.

The board discussed the possibility of accepting a donation of the Bee Jays baseball team bus, which would then be used by the semi-pro team during the summer season, and available to college teams throughout the rest of the year. Discussion centered on the implications of partnering with the team, and what would be required if the original “Bee Jays” bus broke down.

The board agreed to continue looking into the details of accepting the possible donation. 

Vice President of Academic Affairs, Dr. Todd Carter updated the board about the ongoing certificate projects in Industrial Technology. The division will establish multiple entry and exit points for students who can take one semester of classes to earn a first-level certificate, or earn subsequent certifications at each semester mark, culminating in an Associate of Applied Science after two years of study. Carter also noted the two new semi truck cabs and trailers purchased for the truck driving program are in the last stages of being wrapped with marketing materials. 

Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan presented information about the end-of-semester “De Stress Fest” planned for students. Among the activities are a hypnotist performance, pet therapy, and games designed to let students de-stress as final exams approach. The college helped sponsor 27 folkloric dancers from Mexico to perform at Cinco de Mayo celebrations, and the group will also perform at the post-graduation reception Saturday. Donovan also noted eight SCCC employees serve on the Cinco de Mayo committee. 

Vice President of Finance and Operations Dennis Sander said the cooling tower installation is complete, and the chiller installation is nearly finished. He outlined plans for summer maintenance improvement projects, including new lighting and sound systems for the Showcase Theater and the Greenhouse (sound).  

President, Dr. Ken Trzaska announced that the college has received a 2017 award from NISOD as one of the most promising places to work in terms of diversity and inclusion. Two instructors, Chris Hickman and Hiran Gunasekara, will travel to the annual NISOD conference with Interim Dean of Industrial Technology, Travis Combs, to receive individual awards and accept the institutional award. 

The next Board of Trustees meeting will be a special session at 7:30 p.m. May 8, in the board room of the Hobble Academic Building. Agendas and reports are posted through the board portal on the college website, > About Us > Board of Trustees. 


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