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BCC finds pros, cons to remote meetings
Advisory groups help Barton meet regional workforce needs

Meeting by Zoom versus meeting in person has its pros and cons, as highlighted by topics discussed at the Barton Community College Board of Trustees meeting on Tuesday.

Because of curtailed travel, students selected for the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society’s All-Kansas Academic Team won’t travel to Topeka this year for an awards ceremony and a tour of the state capital building.

It’s still not certain whether there will be normal, face-to-face graduation ceremonies in the spring, Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman told the trustees. For now, the Barton graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 14 in the BCC Gymnasium. Fort Riley’s graduation ceremony is scheduled for May 27.

On the other hand, Kathy Kottas, dean of Workforce Training & Community Education, said holding meetings via Zoom has allowed people who don’t normally travel here to connect from afar. The college has a number of advisory groups that include representatives from various businesses, industries and other community sectors pertinent to BCC programs. Members assist with the development and enhancement of programs and help to ensure students have the skills necessary to compete and succeed in the workplace.

Workforce advisory boards exist for the following programs: adult health care, agriculture, automotive, business, criminal justice, dietary manager, early childhood, emergency management/homeland security, emergency services education, Fort Riley military programs, hazardous materials management, information technology, medical support programs, Medical Laboratory Technician, natural gas, nursing, occupation safety and health, pharmacy technician, scales technician, and welding.

“We meet with advisory boards twice a year,” Kottas said. At a recent meeting with the advisory group for the Scales Technician program, 12 people attended, including some from other states. It saves time and money if people don’t have to leave their place of employment to come to a meeting.

Barton also has partnerships with 14 schools in 13 school districts: Central Plains, Ellinwood, Great Bend, Hoisington, Larned, Otis-Bison, Russell, Wilson, Chase, Ellsworth, La Crosse, Lyons, Pawnee Heights and St. John, as well as Partners Online (POL) mentors at Blue Valley-Randolph, Pratt, Little River, Macksville and Stafford.

Kottas was giving the annual monitoring report on how well the college meets regional workforce needs. Kurt Teal, dean of Military Academics, Technical Education & Outreach Programs, also joined in the report presentation. 

Fort Riley status

Teal also presented a Fort Riley status report. There has been a decrease in the number of Military On-Site Training (MOST) classes. In 2019, 11 classes were completed at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, and Fort Belvoir, Virginia. In 2020, one live online class was taught at Fort Sill and seven classes were canceled due to COVID-19 and low enrollments. Teal said travel restrictions during the pandemic exacerbated the problem.

Some things are “going great” for Fort Riley military school enrollment, Teal said. Barton is exploring/developing a new partnership with the Kansas National Guard Regional Training Institute and has also been cleared to teach an Air Load Planner Course for the Air Force in Virginia.

Meeting at a glance

Here’s a quick look at Tuesday’s BCC Board of Trustees meeting:

• EduKan CEO Esther Lahargoue presented the EduKan Fiscal Year 2020 Audit.

• Board officers were elected. Mike Johnson will continue as president and as the board’s representative to the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees. Vice President Gary Burke said he would step down from that position and recommended Tricia Reiser serve as vice president. The change was approved. Don Learned will continue as board sectary and BCC Vice President of Administration Mark Dean will continue as treasurer.

• Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman noted that because of the pandemic, the Strategic Planning process was curtailed last year. However, it needs to resume because the college is scheduled for an on-site accreditation visit from the Higher Learning Commission in 2021.

• The board approved a change to the college’s contract process as discussed at the Jan. 12 study session. This allows the president and vice president of administration to omit the requirements of Kansas form DA-146a (in part or completely) when it is in the best interest of the college.

• Two new employees were approved. Tevin Briscoe is the new assistant wrestling coach and Twambi Kerstetter was hired as an academic advisor at Fort Riley.

• Trustees were told the number of students testing positive for COVID-19 remains low but students are reminded to continue safe practices. The pandemic continues to pose challenges for travel and sporting events, at Barton as well as other venues.