Barton Community College trustees may request an exemption to a new gun law taking effect July 1.
The law was discussed Thursday at the board’s monthly study session, with Barton President Carl Heilman saying the administration wants to opt out of the new law, as allowed by the statute.
Part of the bill passed by the Legislature says colleges cannot prohibit conceal carry in their public buildings unless they have “adequate security measures” and conspicuously post that no weapons are allowed. They also cannot prohibit employees from conceal carry in buildings, unless they have the security measures and signs. However, post-secondary institutions can receive a four-year exemption for any building if they send a letter to the Attorney General by July 1 stating the reasons for the exemption. The exemption doesn’t cover outdoor areas.
Trustee Robert Feldt asked if Heilman had surveyed faculty and staff. He had not, but agreed to do so.
“I’ve received comments,” Heilman said. “There’s widespread support for a guarded environment and not allowing conceal carry on campus.”
But Dean of Administration Mark Dean said the college’s insurance company won’t allow employees who are not licensed security people to carry weapons.
That prompted trustee John Moshier to comment that employee support may not matter, although the board wants to hear it. “Ultimately, the decision’s not going to be based on popular opinion,” he said.
Board Chairman Mike Johnson said after the story appears in the newspaper, trustees would probably hear the opinions of community members as well, even if they have never set foot on the campus and don’t intend to.
“I’m a gun owner and pro-gun, but I think there’s places for guns and places not for guns,” Johnson said.
Heilman said the board’s attorney, Randall Henry, has drafted an exemption resolution for Barton and Hutchinson Community College, and he expects the HCC Board of Trustees will approve it this month.
Trustee Don Learned asked if other community colleges were expected to take similar action.
“I’ll be surprised if an institution doesn’t seek exemption,” Heilman said.
The bill has other provisions regarding defining weapons, discharging a weapon in city limits and more. Unless otherwise allowed by law, it prohibits releasing the names of conceal carry applicants and licensees.
In other business, trustees discussed proposed changes to the Medical Administrative Technology program and the Natural Gas program, reviewed the list of management staff and administrative contracts; made plans to meet with Barton Foundation Board members and with officials from Workforce Training partner St. Rose Ambulatory & Surgery Center, and received instructions for their duties at commencement.
Dean presented the financial statement, saying the college has received $1.5 million more to date than at the same time one year ago, but expenditures are $2.8 million more than a year ago. “We will have dipped into cash reserves,” which have been cut from 46 percent of the general fund budget to 40 percent. This is mostly due to an intentional spending down of reserves for capital outlay projects and other unbudgeted items, such as computer software.