Seward County Community College
The Seward County Community College Board of Trustees met Monday, March 6, for its regular meeting, handling a light agenda due to several tabled items that required further research. Following short presentations from the athletic director and chief development officer, review of the personnel report, and board comments, trustees reviewed the 2022 financial report.
The board met via Zoom with representatives from the financial firm Adams Brown, CPA, which provided the independent annual audit of the College for fiscal year ending June 30, 2022. The audit is conducted in accordance with auditing standards generally accepted in the United States of America (GAAS), the Kansas Municipal Audit and Accounting Guide, and the standards applicable to financial audits contained in Government Auditing Standards, issued by the Comptroller General of the United States.
Jami Benyshek and Danielle Hollingshead presented the audit via Zoom and offered positive feedback about changes implemented by SCCC Vice President of Financial Affairs Madalen Day. The CPAs praised Day’s corrective action plan for late reports on COVID-related funding, noting that “we did not run into any difficulties or disagreements with management.” The board voted unanimously to accept the report as submitted.
President Brad Bennett presented an overview of the college’s participation in the online consortium EduKan, which began as a joint venture by six community colleges in 1998. A forward-thinking experiment in what was then new technology, EduKan has now become disproportionately costly for SCCC as half the original partners left the consortium. At the same time, the Learning Management System (LMS) used to operate the online courses charges the same high fees that were common when the technology was brand new; setting up the same services with newer technology is now much less expensive.
“As you know, I have spent a tremendous amount of time meeting with EduKan in the last year,” Bennett said. “It’s changed over the years, and we are now the largest credit hour producer, while shouldering more of the expenses. I’m asking the board for permission to negotiate what is in the best interests of the college.”
Doing so should not interfere with collegial relationships between the college and its peer institutions, Bennett said.
“We want to take care of each other,” he said.
The board discussed the issue at length before coming to consensus that Bennett should proceed.
Trustee Dustin Ormiston expressed concern that SCCC retain the intellectual property in the form of course materials and syllabi for the 125 classes currently offered by EduKan.
“We have to offer every one of those classes to our students in some form,” Bennett agreed. “We’re working with outside consultant Julie Rickey to expedite course development at Seward so that, if the EduKan picture changes, we’ll be ready.”
Hearing no objections from his fellow trustees, Oliver gave Bennett permission to continue negotiating for the college to exit EduKan.
Following a recent walk-through in the Student Living Center facilities, administration found several issues with the flooring.
“We feel it is necessary to replace the flooring to better attract students to the dorms,” said VP Day in her presentation. “We asked local vendors to quote vinyl flooring for the rooms and hallways. This will save maintenance time in the summer to focus on other projects because facilities employees do not have to resurface the tile flooring.”
Using Microban flooring qualifies the project for COVID-19 funds usage. To get the job done as quickly as possible, the college proposed a three-way split with Brown’s Furniture, Scantlin’s Furniture, and Flooring America and Furniture Outlet
“Their quotes were close in price,” Day said. “We will have them divide up the work evenly, which will also help us finish it quickly.”
The board approved the bid as presented, not to exceed $335,000.
CIO Lemert brought the board a request for approval to hire the cybersecurity auditing service Conetrix. The company specializes in banking and higher-ed technology audits, and has an 18-month waiting list, Lemert said, “although, if we sign with them now, they will fill us in earlier if there are cancellations. These types of auditors are few and far between.”
Lemert explained the audit is necessary due to the Department Education publication titled “Enforcement of Cybersecurity Requirements under the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act” with a posted date of February 28, 2020. In it, the DOE categorizes higher education institutions as financial entities according to the GLBA. Because of this, colleges must agree to protect student information with the same level of care expected of banks.
“My interpretation of this is that we, as a financial institution, will be held to a similar standard as what First National Bank was held to when I last worked there. Therefore, I ask the board to approve the quote from Conetrix and waive the bid process due to my familiarity with the company and their acceptance of their audits by previous OCC auditors without objection or modification,” Lemert stated in his report.
Noting that the government levels $100,000 fines per violation, Trustee Dustin Ormiston compared the $39,111 contract with Conetrix to a type of insurance. The board voted unanimously to accept Lemert’s advice and hire Conetrix.
Other business and reports that came to the board included:
• Introduction of the March “Student Spotlight” Saint, corrosion student Marcos Gonzalez.
• Details about the new soccer and eSports programs from Athletic Director Dan Artamenko. Men’s soccer announced its first signee, Liberal High School standout Emmanuel Ortuño. “We had a great meeting with the City of Liberal and USD 480 on finalizing facility usage,” Artamenko noted. Esports is moving forward, with coach Eric Volden starting duties March 1, and bids for furniture and hardware nearing completion.
• Chief Development Officer Kyle Woodrow reported that the Sharp Family Champions Center continues to take shape with interior finishing underway. The Annual Giving and Alumni Engagement’s Day of Giving will take place April 20. The date is set for the SCCC Foundation’s Annual Meeting: 11:30 a.m. March 29.
• The board approved review and updates for several board policies relating to business functions of the college. These primarily consisted of formatting and typographical changes, and adjustment of the title of VP of Academic Affairs Day throughout the documents.
• Trustee Kay Burtzloff thanked the SCCC students and staff, including fellow trustee Keeley Moree, who participated in clean-up at the Sage Mobile Home park following the tornado damage incurred Feb. 26. “They made a tremendous difference, and people were really grateful,” she said.
• Trustee Casey Mein asked for an update about the college’s official website, sccc.edu, since being contacted by several community members about broken links. Chief Information Officer Louie Lemert explained that while the website is migrating from one hosting platform to a new one, several uncontrollable delays will occur. Lemert expects those glitches to be resolved in the coming weeks.
• Chair Oliver praised Bennett for his advocacy on behalf of the college at recent meetings in Topeka. At the Kansas Board of Regents supper, Oliver said, “they seem more receptive to us than in the past, even though it was also ‘pick on Brad’ night.”
• The board set a new date for the July meeting due to the July 4 holiday; the trustees will meet July 10. In September, due to the Labor Day holiday, the meeting will move to Sept. 11. Board members also agreed to hold their annual retreat and planning session at 6 p.m. April 30.
Executive Team reports to the board
• Chief Information Officer Louie Lemert brought updates about general departmental projects:
• UPSes - Implementation will be complete as we replace switches. We are waiting on only two UPSes and they have been shipped.
• Fiber Upgrade – In process of installation.
• Wireless controllers – In process of implementation.
• Windows Deployment Services (WDS) – Finalizing testing.
• Phone system – Finalizing testing, hope to have RFB out in April for equipment.
• Ellucian – Awaiting quote from Ellucian for on site licensing and Oracle cloud services. Hoping to present to the board in April.
• Vice President of Student Services Celeste Donovan listed multiple upcoming events:
• SCCC students will participate in an after-school mentor program with K-5th grade students at Southwestern Heights. Activities include motivational speeches, games, and crafts.
• Saints and Seniors Day on March 29 has already registered 148 students from 19 different high schools and continues to receive registrations for another couple of weeks.
• We have selected 22 new Presidential Scholars for next year. Awards will be presented at the scholars academic award banquets and/or graduation ceremonies in the students’ communities.
• Vice President of Academic Affairs Luke Dowell was absent but submitted his report electronically:
We’re holding town hall meetings across our service area to explain our Saints Ahead Scholarship program. These provide information to schools, students, parents, and communities so they understand the opportunity for students to complete college courses while in high school at low- or no cost. In addition, I have been asked to share our plans for Saints Ahead with various committees at Kansas Board of Regents over the next month.
• The Salary Task Force completed recommendations to make SCCC more competitive when hiring faculty and to ensure our current faculty are placed fairly on the scale. We have a set of guidelines for determining steps for previous work experience as well as a modified salary scale to use moving forward. These recommendations will be brought forward during faculty negotiations.
The State-wide General Education Framework was approved by the Kansas Board of Regents last summer and is scheduled to take effect in August 2024. Currently we are working to determine which courses can count in a bucket of six that is chosen by the institution. This work has generated good discussions covering how to allow for specific transfer degrees such as the Associate of Arts and Associate of Science degrees in specific disciplines and our own institution’s definitions of what a general education course should include. When this is complete it will be a great benefit for our students.
The math pathways project at KBOR is designed to provide alternatives to College Algebra for students who do not need to take Calculus as part of their degree. A statewide task force has been working to develop the parameters for the project.
• Teresa Wehmeier and Tracy Murray are working with Clean Catalog to develop our catalog, syllabi, and curriculum management online. This will allow us to keep our information consistent and up to date. The catalog and syllabus solutions should be live by August and the curriculum management piece should be in place by January.
• Vice President of Business Affairs Madalen Day provided information about an emergency purchase and other projects around campus:
The Saints Bookstore will be closed March 6-10 for travel to New Orleans and the CAMEX convention for education on industry changes throughout the independent college bookstore communities. Saints Bookstore will reopen over Spring Break for all Saints Apparel and Logo needs.
Three HVAC units went out at the Technical Building, requiring immediate attention, so SCCC purchased one new unit from Garden City Wholesale Supply Inc at $7,889.65 and two units from CFM Distributors Inc at $9,830.16 for a total of $17,719.81. The units will take a little while to receive, so we needed to get them ordered as soon as possible. Manny Jimenez helped place orders directly from the distributor, so our price is fair.
The fire system panels at the Technical Building required replacement as they current system is down and is not able to be repaired. While students are on site, there must be a walk-through the building every hour. Three new panels were purchased from Fire Alarm Specialist Inc for a total of $45,502.35. This price was the lowest quote of two.
Finance Department is excited to have the FY2022 audit completed, and we are working on making things easier and better for them next year. New GASB standards will require software and we are working with vendors to explore options. The Financial Aid push has been completed, so students are picking up their refund checks if applicable. Bond Series 2011 has been paid in full, so we are excited to move things forward.
President Brad Bennett reviewed a list of upcoming events:
• SCCC will host the Kansas Community College Leadership Institute April 5-6.
• Our Higher Learning Commission team will attend the annual conference in Chicago March 25-28.
• Graduation will take place with the same format as previous years, offering multiple ceremonies for different groups of graduates. Karla will organize which ceremony board members will attend.
• Lindsay and Brad Bennett will host the Board of Trustees, the Foundation Board, faculty/staff, and families for a BBQ at their house after graduation on May 6.
• The college will celebrate Ag Week April 17-21 with a variety of activities planned for the campus and the community.
• The annual Phi Theta Kappa banquet for honorees and their families is set for April 14 in Junction City. Four honorees and their families will attend, along with college representatives. The KACCT meeting follows that afternoon.
• PEA negotiations are slated to begin soon.