Barton Community College’s Board of Trustees approved the college’s 2016-2017 budget Tuesday after inviting comments or questions from the public. Hearing none, the budget was adopted. Based on valuation numbers provided by the county on June 21, it is estimated that the mill levy will be the same as the actual rate in 2014-2015, which was 33.124 mills. In 2015-2016 the rate was similar at 33.090.
College officials noted that the county’s valuation is lower than it was a year ago, due to a drop in oil prices. Because of the lower valuation, the same mill levy will generate fewer tax dollars — about $20,000 less than last year.
The budget hearing was scheduled in conjunction with the board’s monthly study session, where Dean of Administration Mark Dean gave a financial report. Dean noted that revenue is up and expenditures are down a bit compared to this time a year ago.
The board also voted Tuesday to renew the college’s contract with Canvas, the learning management system (LMS) that allows the college to provide online education to students. This includes software and support.
No price was quoted at the meeting, but an invoice included with agenda materials shows a total of $75,900 for Aug. 1, 2016 through July 31, 2017.
Vice President Dr. Robin Garrett spoke about the transition from eCollege to Canvas as the BartOnline LMS. Instructors who teach classes via BartOnline must take two online courses to receive “e-certification.” Each course must also go through a quality review before April, when the transition will be complete.
Barton President Dr. Caral Heilman noted that the decision to begin a transition to Canvas two years ago was a good one for Barton, because eCollege won’t offer this type of service in the future.
During the study session portion of the meeting, trustees met the new EduKan chief executive officer, Esther Lahargoue.
EduKan (www.edukan.org) was founded in 1998 by six community colleges, including Barton, to provide online classes. It now accounts for about 4 percent of Barton’s online credit hours, Garrett said, with BartOnline handling the rest.
Lahargoue said EduKan has also converted from eCollege to the Canvas LMS.
She plans to meet with the six college presidents to discuss the future of EduKan, which saw a 12 percent enrollment decrease last year.
“I don’t think we’re positioned correctly,” Lahargoue said, explaining EduKan is not another online college, but a portal for the six community colleges.
“I’m pleased that the presidents have been helpful,” she added.