Inmates at Ellsworth Correctional Facility will be able to use wireless devices for the Adult Education Program offered through Barton Community College, thanks to action taken Thursday by the college’s board of trustees.
The trustees approved a two-year contract for support technology at ECF, where Barton has a contract with the Kansas Department of Corrections.
The total contract is for $101,100, funded by grant money. Under this contract, American Prison Data Systems will provide 50 Samsung Galaxy Tab S2’s with cases, charging stations, and associated peripherals; 1GB bandwidth per month; 24/7/365 security and monitoring; unlimited tech support; unlimited technical and virtual provisioning; AZTEC; National Corrections Library, Secure Content Locker, Connected Corrections (including teacher communication), APDS Learning Management System, Khan Academy Lite, TED Talks, and a secure browser.
The administration presented this contract to trustees at a study session earlier this month. The contract will benefit the students by providing additional resources they can use outside of normal classroom hours.
Tablets and the special technology will allow inmates to learn from web based applications they would not normally have access to, due to security concerns.
Changes in overtime
Trustees also discussed a proposed change in the Department of Labor’s overtime rules. Trustees learned than Barton has approximately 81 salaried employees who earn more than $23,660 a year and are exempt from overtime. If the new DOL rule is approved later this year, the new threshold for exemptions will be $50,440 per year. Anyone who make less than that will have to be paid by the hour. Dean of Administration Mark Dean said the cost of such a measure is uncertain, but he estimates that increasing the salary level of all 81 employees to the new exempt salary level would cost approximately $890,000.
In the alternative, any work now done outside regular hours could be subject to overtime, Dean said. For example, “If (an employee) answers emails on weekends – if you expect him to do it, you’ll have to pay him.”
Mike Johnson, board chairman, commented, “It could potentially have a big impact on the college,” and trustee Gary Burke predicted the rule would have a “trickle-down effect” that would force the college to increase tuition.
“It’s not only us,” Dean said, noting the proposed rule will affect many businesses. “It will trickle down to everything if it’s passed as written. It automatically moves the salary level up.”
Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said the college may need to consider the possibility when it’s time to work on the next budget in July. However, the final ruling on the proposed change isn’t expected until the third or fourth quarter of 2016. Meanwhile, a number of education groups – including the American Association of Community Colleges – have joined businesses in writing to the Department of Labor to protest the proposal.
The board also made plans for next week’s BCC Board of Trustees retreat, March 2-3 at Junction City, Grandview Plaza and Fort Riley; and heard reports on strategic planning and faculty council.
In other business, the trustees approved the following new employees: Monika Dost, library assistant, Circulation Services; Joseph Hathaway, campus security officer; Jamie Buehler, instructional specialist (Adult Basic Education and General Educational Development); and Brenda Worley, custodian, all at the Barton County campus; and Megan Schiffelbein, course reviewer and developer at the Fort Riley Campus.