By Julie Wiessner
The 2013-14 Northland Pioneer College budget underwent some scrutiny during a public hearing and regular meeting held May 21 by the Navajo County Community College District Governing Board.
Regarding the Institutional Support (administration) budget increasing from $7,566,702 in 2012-13 to $9,302,670 for the following year, board member Prescott Winslow noted, “As a taxpaying citizen, I want to know why there is an increase in the overhead/administration budget.”
Vice President for Administrative Services Blaine Hatch responded with, “There was a lot of Information Services included in that section.”
Winslow continued, “So some of the money is going to computers?”
Hatch responded, “Yes, the administration increase is due to the infrastructure increase, and includes classroom technology and its costs, all of the costs associated with a student attending a class.”
Board member James Mattheson commented, “This is just an observation, but when the budget is set up, it appears top heavy with administration, but this includes Instruction Service and Informational Technology because of the spread out nature of the college; its more a regional than a community college.”
Board President Ginny Handorf concurred, noting, “We are actually servicing an area in size comparable to the State of Virginia with 22 colleges.”
Hatch agreed, “Yes, a one-size fits all approach does not work with this college, we are very different from other colleges as far as the legislature is concerned.”
Although the board voted to keep the same tax rate as last year, there will still be an increase of 1.3 percent in funds raised, bringing in an additional $173,773 from new construction in the county.
The budget was approved, including the General Fund up by $1,232,773 from 2012-13 to $25,432,135, and the Unexpended Plant Fund, up by $1,114,300 to $12,199,300.
The total budget will be $45.1 million, while for 2013 it was $41.7 million, a difference of $3,903,073.
There were no comments or questions from the public during the hearing, nor had Hatch been contacted concerning any questions about the budget.
In other action, the board:
* Approved the three-year capital budget for 2013-14, a budgetary planning document that allows college officials to look ahead at what could be coming down the road in the near future.
* Approved a $125,714.07 contract with It’s Magic Landscape and Design for White Mountain Campus landscape and irrigation improvements.
This project is associated with two previously completed projects at the campus, site improvements that addressed parking expansion and roadway design, and the Aspen Center canopy addition. It includes restoration of areas directly impacted by these two projects and an agreement with the City of Show Low to replace trees removed as part of the site improvement project. There are 2013-14 capital budget funds for the project.
* Approved the purchase of furnishings for the Painted Desert Campus Skills Center from Arizona Furnishings for $54,135.62. The purchase includes computer workstations, filing cases, bookcases, chairs, tables, lockers and other required items to outfit the new skills center facility. Funds are available in the 2013-14 capital budget.
Board member Frank Lucero asked, “Is it a time payment or a lump sum?”
Hatch replied, “It is a one lump sum payment after delivery is secured and in working order.”
* Approved the 2014-15 academic calendar dates.
The early approval request was to allow the college to begin schedule planning a year in advance and so all educational partners have NPC calendar dates as they begin their own calendar planning.
This early calendar also reflects the primary changes to the 2013-14 academic calendar, including that the fall semester will begin and end one week earlier, thus nine-month faculty will also report back one week earlier; due to the earlier fall start, an extra week will exist between fall and spring semesters; the spring semester will end one week earlier, creating a two-week gap between spring and summer compared to the current one-week gap; and Presidents Day is dropped as a date on which the college is closed to allow the spring semester to conclude one week earlier, and the college holiday has been replaced with a third personal day for each college employee.
* Approved a five-year, $125,700 contract with Frontier Communications for a 40 Mbps point-to-point connection between the Painted Desert Campus in Holbrook and the Hopi Center, replacing a 10 Mbps connection.
According to Director of Information Services and Faculty in Computer Information Systems Eric Bishop, “The main purpose for this service is to provide students with the same tech service as they would have at any college center,” and ensuring they can access their online classes with speed.
Funding for the project comes from current operational expenses for the existing 10 Mbps link as well as Title III funds related to Project EAGLE.
* Approved the purchase of $309,358.84 in video system equipment from OneVision Solutions to upgrade 12 video classrooms. The 12 Polycom video classroom systems will replace aging equipment and also provide a standardized classroom environment for distance education. Seven of the nine Video 1 and five Video 2 classroom systems will be replaced.
Two Video 1 classroom systems were replaced for the Springerville and St. Johns centers in August 2011.
A portion of the purchase price will include vendor installation of four of these classroom systems. NPC staff members will install the remaining eight classroom systems. The above-mentioned quote does not include sales/use tax. An estimate of taxes for this purchase is $28,000.
Mattheson asked, “Is there training available for faculty on this new equipment? It is terrible to have new equipment and have no one to train people on it.”
Bishop stated, “Yes, there is actually one person that is dedicated on the Information Services staff for training.
Vice President of Learning and Student Services Mark Vest commented, “Faculty does volunteer to help train whoever is in need of it and Wei Ma, our Faculty in Educational Technology person, has created web tutorials for training purposes.”
* Approved the Active Directory Restructure Project by QCM Technologies in the amount of $49,130 and a supporting software purchase from SHI in the amount of $20,187.92.
NPC utilizes a Microsoft product, Active Directory, to manage its domain network.
The current implementation is not efficient and needs to be restructured. This service will allow IS staff to better manage the network and system resources, will provide better service to employees and students, and allow for better security and access configurations.
According to Bishop, “This project will also help increase the efficiency and success of future technology projects at NPC.”
QCM Technologies will provide the design, management and implementation of all activities outlined for the project. In order to finish it during the summer, a set of software products, QUEST Migration Manager for Active Directory Exchange, will be used to expedite moving systems, users and mailboxes to the new domain.
The project is scheduled to start immediately upon the approval of the board and will be finished on or before June 30.
* Heard a presentation by NPC President Dr. Jeanne Swarthout concerning an update to procedure 2740, the employee grievance policy.
Swarthout stated its wording was very long, convoluted and in need of revamping to make it more concise and clearer for someone going through the process. She said, “Our lawyer looked at it and agreed it was in need of a rewrite.”
* Discussed the evaluation of the college president.
Swarthout reminded the board that, “This year was a ‘board only’ year and board members have a month before their part of the evaluation process needs to be completed.”
Usually the process is started in May and finished by the June board meeting. As part of the performance evaluation, the president will provide a self-evaluation based on the previous year’s goals, a summary of college progress for the year and performance goals for the next year.
* Received an update on filled positions from Sharon Hokanson, director of Human Resources.
She noted a faculty position in philosophy was filled by Bryan Russell.
Jared Turley began his new position on May 1 as an audio/video support technician. He was previously an IS support technician.
Rico Baca started on May 20 as a groundskeeper III.
By Julie Wiessner