Barton Community College trustees considered and rejected the possibility of a 3% mid-year pay increase for employees Tuesday. No vote was required as the trustees decided not to act on additional raises.
Regular employees’ pay was increased 7% and adjunct (part-time) teachers’ pay was increased 10% as of July 2021. When the FY22 budget was approved in July, the trustees asked for a mid-year report so they could explore the possibility of another increase. Vice President of Administration Mark Dean presented the information Tuesday but he and Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman did not recommend an additional increase.
Back in 2007, Barton purchased the Compease-brand compensation management software to learn the salary ranges for people with comparable jobs/skills in the region. Dean said the intent of the board and administration was to get all employees’ salaries to the midpoint of that range within five years.
“This was not achieved due to cost-of-living changes outpacing wage changes, as well as turnover in employees,” he reported.
However, “Barton has made good progress from 2009 to 2021,” Dean reported. “With the most recent wage change this past July, we have made considerable progress moving current employees closer to, or above, midpoint. Of course, this helps with employee retention and satisfaction.”
Compease uses a compa-ratio that divides an individual’s pay rate by the midpoint of a predetermined salary range. A compa-ratio of 1.0 (100%) means the employee is at the exact midpoint of the range.
“Barton’s current company-wide compa-ratio is 96.1%, which is higher than it has been since we started with Compease,” Dean said.
He had some concerns about additional raises at this time, however.
A 3% mid-year raise would cost about $416,000, with half coming out of this year’s budget and the full amount affecting next year’s budget. Meanwhile, enrollment is down, with credit hours for FY22 currently 13.58% less than at the same time last year. As a result, tuition revenue is $436,864 less than last year.
Furthermore, the college has relied on money from the Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), allotted by Congress to address revenue loss from the ripple effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, but HEERF funds go away in June, Dean said.
Dr. Heilman shared Dean’s concerns.
“I think it makes sense to pause, given the changing dynamic with COVID,” he said.
Board Chairman Mike Johnson said the pay raises earlier this year went a long way toward reaching the goal of competitive salaries. “I’ve been on the board for some time and Compease (numbers) never did look better,” he said.
“We still have competition (in the job market),” Dean said. Sometimes people apply for jobs at the college but turn them down because they can get $3-5 an hour more somewhere else. “Competition is fierce out there.”
Administrators also reported that the wage gap is being addressed in other ways. Some recently hired employees reported the college’s benefits package is what drew them to Barton.
With the termination of additional unemployment benefits, individuals are returning to work.
The human resources office reports more applications are coming in, and within a shorter timeframe of the initial advertising. This may be due to changes in the way they are advertising and the inclusion of benefits in the ads and webpage.
“We have filled a number of positions,” Dean said, noting the campus safety officer position that was filled that day had been open for a year. Back on July 1, the college had 73 open positions and as of Nov. 18 there were 59. Dean noted that the college is not necessarily trying to fill all of those positions right now and that some were created by restructuring.
In other business, the college approved the FY21 audit.
Danielle Hollingshead from Adams Brown Strategic Allies presented the audit report, saying no budget violations were found.
The board also approved the creation of a program of studies in cyber-security, as discussed at the study session on Nov. 9. Vice President of Instruction Elaine Simmons noted that the Kansas Board of Regents must sign off on the program. “This is the last step internally, and then we go to KBOR,” she said. Administrators hope to offer the program in the fall of 2022.
The board approved the following new personnel to work on the Barton County campus: Robert Cates, campus safety officer; Alyssa Bliven, Shafer Art Gallery associate; Steve Ledesma, campus safety officer; Katherine Fiala, library assistant, outreach services; Jennifer Miller, financial aid communications specialist. The board also approved hiring My Le as a student services specialist on the Fort Riley Campus.