Students are back on campus at Barton Community College and college trustees on Tuesday discussed adjustments being made during the COVID-19 pandemic.
So far, 372 students have paid their deposits for student housing, although 60-70 of those han’t shown up yet, Vice President of Administration Mark Dean said at Tuesday’s BCC Board of Trustees study session. Classes started Wednesday.
Student housing is often at or above its 442-bed capacity at the start of the fall semester and there are always some last-minute changes. Dean said he’d have a more reliable number in a couple of weeks. The dorms need to fill 315 beds to break even on expenses.
The college’s “Cougar Driven” plan is updated regularly to reflect the latest health regulations and guidelines.
Dean reviewed some of the latest updates:
In order to allow more room for social distancing in the Student Union, college faculty and staff aren’t allowed to use the food service on campus for now.
Students have their temperatures checked at screening stations as they enter buildings and they are required to wear face coverings – masks or shields – where social distancing cannot be maintained. Exemptions to the requirement include the Student Union eating area, swimming pool, Child Development Center, athletic games/practices/workouts, and performing arts.
The college has ordered air purifiers for every classroom and common area. Hand sanitizers and disinfectants have been distributed to all classrooms, service counters and common office areas.
Even though state and local guidelines change often because of the pandemic, plans have been made for the spring semester. Students – especially those who purchase airline tickets to come here – need to know the schedule, Dean said. Spring semester classes will start on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2021, instead of Monday, Jan. 11.
“The Number One change in the spring semester is no spring break,” he said. The college will keep the planned Easter holiday, Friday, April 2, and Monday, April 5.
Any student or employee that tests positive for COVID-19 will be reported to the local health department. The college will provide that person’s personal directory information (name, address and phone) to the Barton County Health Department and Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE). Although the health department doesn’t release that information to the public, it is used for contact tracing.
Students that required the first quarantine have successfully completed their quarantine. A second phase of quarantine in taking place now at the Camp Aldrich conference center for a few late arrivals who are on the restricted country list issued by KDHE.
The college has already had both students and employees test positive for COVID-19. The number of employees who have been issued quarantine orders due to coming in contact with someone that has tested positive (either on or off campus) also continues to grow.
Cole Schwarz joins the board
The trustees combined their monthly study session with a business meeting Tuesday, for the purpose of holding the public budget hearing. Before the budget hearing, the first item of business was for new trustee Cole Schwarz to take the oath of office.
Barton County Clerk Donna Zimmerman had planned to attend the meeting to administer the oath but was unavailable. Schwarz was sworn in by Amye Schneider, assistant to Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman.
Schwarz was appointed by the board in July to finish the term of trustee Mike Boys, who died on June 4.
Budget approved after public hearing
Barton Community College officials said they plan to hold the mill levy steady, as they have since 2007, by requesting fewer tax dollars for the next year. A public budget hearing was held Tuesday. Hearing no comments from the public, the trustees approved the 2020-2021 budget as published. The estimated tax rate will be 32.96 mills, compared to this actual tax rate for 2019-2020 of 33.077 mills.
The budget asks for $8,723,340 to be levied, which is $446,303 less than the $9,169,643 levied last year. In 2018-2019, the total tax levied was $8,891,744.
The county valuation decreased significantly because of major decreases in oil/gas, as well as decreases for personal property and utilities. The mill levy request is based on the valuation estimate provided by the County on June 15, which was $264,664,428.