KC Board of Trustees approves budget
The Kaskaskia College Board of Trustees held their monthly meeting on Monday, September 27, 2021, with a pre-hearing to discuss the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget. Board members included Bill Hawley (Odin), Jim Beasley (Centralia), Bryan Holthaus (Carlyle), Louis Kalert (Centralia), Laura Wedekemper (Shattuc), Jeff Brown (Greenville), and Alexis Enke (Student Trustee).
The board unanimously approved the institution’s fiscal year 2022 budget. During the board’s budget hearing before the regular meeting, Vice President of Administrative Services Judy Hemker informed the board that the college is fiscally sound and continues to be a good steward of taxpayers’ money. The college currently holds 11 months of operating reserves and expects a reserve of nine and a half months as of June 30, 2022.
“The last year has definitely been a roller coaster for this institution as related to predicting enrollments and pandemic-related expenses,” said KC President George Evans. “Judy and her team have done an amazing job of strengthening the institution’s finances during what I believe to be one of the toughest times for higher education. Because of their hard work and the staff’s fiscal responsibility, the college continues to remain on solid financial ground. I appreciate all of their hard work and am thankful for their service.”
Additionally, the trustees approved an alteration in scope for unallocated capital funds originally identified for Phase II of the Vandalia Education Center. Phase II plans of the Vandalia Education Center have been on hiatus for over ten years, and the design has been deemed obsolete and no longer viable. In collaboration with the Kaskaskia Foundation, the college will begin formalizing an alternative plan to utilize the $1.5 million of privately raised funds to be used in a manner consistent with the donors’ wishes at the KC Vandalia Education Center campus.
Barnes and Noble College presented plans for the renovation of the college bookstore, including the proposed additions of a coffee bar, a new student lounge area, and expanded grab ‘n go food options. The board approved the plan to move forward with the renovation to be completed in Spring 2022.
Greenville Mayor George Barber addressed the board seeking the college’s support of an extension of the city’s downtown Tax Increment Financing (TIF) District. Greenville is currently working with a developer to bring a significant residential/commercial development to Courthouse Square. President George Evans, with approval from the board, agreed to write a letter of support.
The board ratified the agreement between the college and Qualtrics, LLC of Provo, Utah for $41,000 to pay for software solutions for a daily COVID-19 symptom checker and self-certification services, vaccination tracking, and testing program services, including the secure storage of individuals vaccination status data and contract tracing. On August 26, 2021, Illinois Governor Pritzker announced a mandate for all higher education institution personnel and students to be vaccinated or show proof of weekly COVID-19 testing.
Per the college’s priorities to improve student retention, the board reviewed and approved the proposal to purchase Talkspace virtual mental health and emotional wellness services at the cost of $40,000 for a one-year contract. All KC students will have access to utilizing this service.
Talkspace is a messaging-based therapy offered by unlimited text, audio, and video messaging through a proprietary mobile app, and counselors engage five days a week. The therapy is provided by licensed, credentialed providers who have had in-depth training on effective communication approaches for delivering therapy in a messaging-based environment. Improving mental health services available to college students has been recognized as a priority by the Illinois legislature and codified in the Mental Health Early Action on Campus Act which passed into law and became effective July 1, 2020.
The board approved awarding a bid to Cee Kay Welding Supply of St. Louis, MO, for $82,850 to purchase a collaborative robot welder to be used in the college’s Welding Technology Program. The use of collaborative robot welders is becoming more popular in welding cars and construction equipment for repetitive welds due to the shortage of labor in the welding industry.
Trustees ratified the purchase and installation of the firewall upgrades from SecureData Technologies in O’Fallon, IL, in the amount of $125,497. The firewall upgrades will allow total usage of the bandwidth already purchased, support all connections with fewer outages and provide additional security features. Additionally, the board approved the purchase and installation of a network core from SecureData Technologies in O’Fallon, IL, for $131,253 to allow more video instruction, live streaming, and provide a more fluid, campus-like experience while off-campus.
The Kaskaskia College Board of Trustees approved the disposition of property deemed no longer needed for college purposes, the academic calendars for 2023-2024, and the following personnel items:
Alison Bauza – Nashville Education Center Coordinator
Whitney Wadkins – Assistant Professor of Nursing
Lindsey Utech – Billing/Accounts Receivable Specialist
Kathy Evans – Development and Grant Coordinator
Ryan Bechtoldt – ACE Math Tutor
Jamie Jones – COVID-19 Health Screener
Kevin Kind – COVID-19 Health Screener
Laura Vahlkamp – Director of Academic Center for Excellence