After more than two hours of discussion behind closed doors on Thursday, the Barton Community College Board of Trustees voted to renew faculty contracts, including two contracts the administration had recommended for “non-renewal.” The vote was 4-2, and trustees promptly returned to executive session to discuss personnel matters for another hour.
Erin Renard, director of the college’s theater program, and Peter Solie, who teaches journalism courses, were listed as possibilities for non-renewal for reason of “financial exigency” when college trustees reviewed the faculty contract list at their April 9 study session. During the executive sessions, board members consulted with board attorney Randy Henry via conference call, and with Mark Dean, the college’s dean of administration. The first executive session lasted 60 minutes, was followed by another 60-minute session, and one executive session lasting 15 minutes was needed.
There were two motions, each approved with a 4-2 vote. The first motion moved Renard from the non-renwal list to the list of tenured instructors, and it removed Solie from the non-renewal list to the list of instructors on the track to become eligible for tenure. The second motion was to approve the list of contract renewals.
Voting in favor of both motions were board Chairman Mike Johnson and fellow trustees Mike Minton, Don Learned and Leonard Bunselmeyer. Voting against both motions were trustees John Moshier and Brett Middleton.
The meeting began with three community members asking to address the board; all spoke in support of keeping Renard and the theater program. The speakers were Mark Galbraith, interim pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Great Bend; and Barton students Dallas Munden and Hannah Maddy.
Before the matter came to a vote, Chairman Johnson spoke to audience members who had waited outside the board room during the executive sessions.
“The board had some very emotional discussion,” Johnson said. “These times aren’t easy for anyone. The next two years aren’t going to be easy for anyone. It’s a very tough decision.”
New meeting schedule
A policy item that was also on the agenda Thursday was tabled. Johnson said it needed “a couple of tweaks.”
Trustees also approved next year’s tentative schedule of board meetings. After years of being held on the second and fourth Thursdays of most months, board meetings are moving to Tuesdays, starting July 7. It has been noted that Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman has other meetings on Thursdays in Topeka. For example, on March 26 he participated in the Technical Education Authority meeting at Topeka, then returned to the Barton County campus to be at the trustees’ meeting.
Trustee Learned commented, “This will help Dr. Heilman tremendously.”
As the meeting was wrapping up, Barton Vice President Dr. Penny Quinn was congratulated on being selected as the next president of Kaskaskia College, a community college in Centralia, Illinois. Quinn said her last day at BCC will be June 1.