Barton Community College is ending its membership in a consortium of Kansas community colleges that was formed more than 20 years ago to provide online education.
The BCC Board of Trustees voted Tuesday to withdraw from the Western Kansas Community College Virtual Education Consortium, the entity that created EduKan, by August. Trustees approved the action at the recommendation of Barton administrators.
EduKan’s main office is located at 1105 Main Street, Suite C, in Great Bend. It was formed in 1998 by a consortium of six colleges that included Barton, Garden City, Colby, Seward County, Dodge City and Pratt community colleges. It was considered a pioneer in online education for rural Kansas.
Garden City and Colby announced in 2018 they would leave the consortium as part of the pursuit of their individual objectives.
BartOnline, BCC’s virtual campus, has also offered online courses for several years.
Tuesday’s meeting also included a faculty council report, a monitoring report on academic advancement, a strategic planning report and an update on the accreditation process through the Higher Learning Commission.
The board also heard an update on “Cougar Driven,” the ongoing effort to make adjustments related to COVID-19. At that time, there were no students in the housing units set aside for isolation and a vaccination clinic was being scheduled to take place in the CASE I-H area of the Technical Building.
Two new employees were approved to work on the Barton County campus. Lora Zink was hired as an administrative assistant and Kayla Woods was hired as a custodian.
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on March 25. The Great Bend Tribune ask Barton Community College President Dr. Carl Heilman for more information or background but his response arrived after publication. Here is what he later said:
Western Kansas Community College Virtual Education Consortium (Edukan) established 1999.
Founding members: Seward CC, Pratt CC, Garden City CC, Colby CC, Dodge City CC, and Barton CC. These institutions were equal partners in the consortium.
Edukan initially served as the primary online learning vehicle for five CCs with the exception of Barton. Edukan has always served as a complimentary online platform to Barton’s Bartonline; which began in 1997-98. Bartonline is fully controlled by Barton.
In summer 2019, two of the six founding institutions severed ties with Edukan – Colby and Garden City.
The pace of Bartonline growth over the years dominated Barton’s Edukan growth. In 2019-2020, Barton Edukan course credits accounted for approximately five percent of the total online generated course credits, as opposed to Bartonline and ninety-five percent. Barton resources in support to Edukan did not justify the resources being applied to maintain the online alternative option for Barton online enrolling students. Resources being applied to maintain Edukan will be applied to Bartonline for continued growth and expansion of online course options for Barton students.
Accordingly, Barton Trustees acted on the recommendation of administration to sever Edukan membership no later than August 10, 2021. Therefore, Barton will fulfill its FY21 commitment through this coming summer session.