Barton Community College administrators delivered a rosy financial report to college trustees Thursday, with enrollment income up and some projects coming in under budget.
After Dean of Administration Mark Dean gave a financial report and discussed other opportunities for cutting expenses by as much a $1.5 million over five years, he addressed the college’s master plan for capital improvement projects. That prompted board chairman Mike Johnson to ask, “Are we going to spend that $1.5 million we just saved?”
“Not if I can help it,” Dean said. However, he said the college has been “building up some cash” in its reserve funds, mainly because of a series of enrollment spurts. “We can dip into some of that cash to fund some of these projects,” he said.
“We had a bid opening (Wednesday) for parking lot and road projects for this summer,” he said. The Physical Education parking lot was budgeted at $450,000, and came in at $375,000, and the Administration Building parking lot was budgeted at $180,000, but the low bid was thousands of dollars below that.
The college will save about $200,000 by refinancing the 1999 certificates of participation for the newest addition to student housing, which will be paid off in 2029, Dean said. At the trustees’ April 19 meeting he’ll ask them to approve a resolution allowing the college to refinance that debt later this year. The college is paying 4.3 percent interest, but current rates are 2.9 percent. The savings could be realized without extending the time of payback, he said.
The college may also save $1.25 million over the next five years when it renews its contract with eCollege, the company that provides software service for Barton’s online courses. Dean shared details being proposed for the new contract. Although what he presented is still just a proposal and not a contract, he said eCollege is agreeing to waive several fees the college currently pays. “They make a lot of money off of us,” Dean said, adding online enrollment could reach 20,000 by July 1.
The eCollege software service is used for BartOnline and EduKan courses, both available through Barton, and Dean also talked about the latest EduKan audit, which will be presented for board approval at the April business meeting.
Barton President Dr. Carl Heilman said the bottom line will depend on the Legislature’s budget for education, but he expects the college will be ready to move ahead with some of the larger, one-time capital improvement projects that are listed in a master plan, should the trustees approve them. That includes $250,000 for the first phase of renovating the Fine Arts Auditorium, and repaving a couple of parking lots and roads. Athletic Director Trevor Rolfs, reporting on Barton sports programs, also mentioned that with the new track and soccer field completed, the college should look at the next phase of that project.
Dean said the master plan for capital improvement project was made after an architect went through all of the campus facilities. It would take $22 million and many years to complete everything on the list, which includes ongoing items such as roof and vehicle replacement, and special items such as new carpeting, lighting, sound equipment and seating layout for the FIne Arts Auditorium. He said the college has been “building up some cash” in its reserve funds, mainly because of a series of enrollment spurts. “We can dip into some of that cash to fund some of these projects,” he said.
Heilman said the time may be right to start some of the major one-time projects.
“Over the years, we’ve been told by policy makers and tax-paying constituents that it’s our responsibility to budget and make allowance for our facility and deferred maintenance needs,” Heilman said. “We’ve got the opportunity to move ahead with a number of projects here. We are in a good position because we’ve been very careful stewards of our resources.”
Rolfs said the Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference vs. Iowa Community College Athletic Conference track and field championships that will be going on today and Saturday at the new track were made possible by capital improvements. “The best of the best in junior college track and field will be right here,” he said. (See story on page 10.) He said the college should look at the next phase of improvements; the track needs a sound system, timing booth, concession stand/restrooms, bleachers and lighting. This could result in bringing a big high school track meet back to Barton. Other Barton athletic programs have special events planned, he said, and even smaller improvements such as repainting the gym in recent months have drawn positive comments from the public.
“We want to have the finest athletic facilities in the state of Kansas, so we can attract the finest athletes,” Rolfs said.
Dean said that is his goal for all facilities on campus. “When a student walks onto this campus, I want them to be impressed,” he said