There are 15 candidates running for four positions on the Dodge City Community College Board of Trustees this year.
An Aug. 1 primary will cut those candidates down to eight, but who to vote for? A forum and recent questionnaire may help voters narrow the field for themselves.
A Dodge City Community College trustee candidates forum is set for 2:30 p.m. on Sunday at the DCCC campus cafeteria. The Coffee for the Candidates will end at 4 p.m. Coffee, tea and soft drinks will be available for no charge.
The forum has been organized to provide each candidate with opportunities to convince voters he or she is the right person to fill an open position.
Candidates will be at assigned tables to communicate with voters — either answering questions or just speaking to voters — as the number of candidates makes a debate impractical.
The Dodge City Area Chamber of Commerce recently sent questionnaires to each candidate. Three candidates — Anthony Bartello, Michael Banish and Norman Peterson — did not provide responses to the questionnaire.
One of the questions shows where some candidates stand on certain issues raised in the past year. The question is "In the past 12 months, what, if any, decision made by the Dodge City Community College, would you like to see changed or handled differently?"
Incumbent Merrill Conant answered with, "I have seen some difficult and challenging decisions face the board at DCCC in the last 12 months. Having knowledge of the options and information available to all board members, I am in agreement with the decisions made. I believe they were made correctly, even though some outcomes are difficult."
Incumbent Gary Harshberger, who was appointed to finish the term of Don Webb who retired earlier this year, agrees the correct decisions were made.
"None. The board had a decision to make a year ago as to the direction of the College and new leadership. This resulted in the hiring of a new president. He along with the board have a mission to stop the corruption that was occurring under the last administration and get the college back to the prestige it once held. Currently, we are at risk of losing our accreditation due to a small number of teachers that are not qualified to teach the courses they are teaching. The new president and administration are working with the teachers who have committed to getting the appropriate certification. This can be a painful process, but necessary to bring order back to the campus and credibility to the college."
Incumbent, and current board president Morris Reeves also did not see any problems with decisions in the past year. He believes the greatest challenge ahead for the college is accreditation.
"The most immediate challenge is to protect the accreditation of the college. The college must follow the Higher Learning Commission rules and regulations. Prior administrators have allowed faculty to teach who do not meet minimum requirements and have allowed the misuse of federal funds. The second priority is to weed out those classes and programs which no longer attract students and are not relevant in today’s world. The third priority is to address the workforce requirements of the greater Dodge City area in areas such as wind energy and expanded healthcare while at the same time address the needs of our students of the millennium generation by expanding our technology and on-line offerings."
Candidate Dan Reichenborn believes the board needs to pull together.
"I believe it is critical that the trustees, administration, faculty, and all other employees function as a cohesive unit. This is the only way that students can gain the knowledge and reap the rewards for their investment of time and money. And, it is the only way that the taxpayers can also realize a return on their investment. I am concerned that all the uproar and drama has taken the focus away from student academic achievement and success."
Candidate Bill Hammond, who just missed winning a trustee seat in the last election, sees multiple problems with the board’s decisions over the past year.
"There are several decisions that could have been handled differently. The college should not be selling land; the college should emphasize face-to-face classes rather than on-line classes; there should be more development of tech and health-related programs."
Candidate Sara Howard sees the changes to faculty recently as a problem.
"The dismissal of teachers without any meetings or talks on how they could keep their positions."
Candidate Mia Schrader Korbelik wants trustees to communicate better with each other on issues.
"Although I think it is fruitless to second guess others when I may not have all the information in regard others’ decisions; I would hope that the Trustees of Dodge City Community College would work diligently and with greater success to communicate the circumstances and logic behind their decisions to the tax payers and residents of Ford County."
Candidate Kathy Ramsour wants the board to be clearer in what they present to the community.
"I was opposed to having retail shops off our entrance at 14th street to the college. We have a beautiful campus and the first impression for a family looking at our campus should be educational not retail. I also believe if we as a community understood the Star Bond area being looked at we would not have been worried about the college but see that it would be growth for our community and businesses. It was exciting to see movement forward for Dodge City, but we should have all entities working together with information everyone can understand and not misinformation being given by many not understanding."
Candidate Nancy Sapp got answers to questions she asked, but believes the trustees must be more open in the future.
"Most recently, I questioned the releasing of two staff and the retirement of a third. I took the initiative to meet with the administration to discuss my concerns. I asked the questions and received explanations. The explanations were reasonable and justified. Changes and decisions that are made are not always black or white. I believe and have expressed those beliefs to administration that the community college needs to take a stance of full disclosure to the extent that the law allows. There are many decisions made that are personnel issues and fall under the law of confidentiality. Those are the tough ones and seem to bring about the most criticism of the community due in part in the lack of trust."
Candidate John Thomas wants answers on a certain topic.
"The Board of Trustees should address the vote of no confidence from the teacher’s association to the President."
Candidate Pete Weil thinks the college is a hostile environment for those employed.
"I was extremely disappointed in the handling of our nursing students' concerns and nursing department personnel. Students with legitimate grievances were ignored or dismissed, whereas they should have been addressed immediately and professionally. If addressed, we could have quickly and more efficiently rectified a negative learning situation. I believe in being proactive, rather than reactive. Unfortunately, we found ourselves in a situation where we then reacted poorly, not only in front of our campus employees, but also the area, as the local news reported on the situation. Pairing this with the forced resignations of staff members, we have found that we have created a hostile environment — so much so that the faculty called for a vote of ‘No Confidence’ in the current administration."
Candidate Nick Wells seeks to increase enrollment.
"The Student Service Office needs to be overhauled and become more customer friendly, student oriented, and numbers driven to put some butts back into the seats. Student numbers are at their all-time low due to lack of sales technique and program knowledge. This is especially true in the Tech area where it is difficult to attach students to a program of study if you don’t understand what the program is or does. Skilled and experienced SS people make a huge difference in recruitment, retention, and student success. I have plenty of experience in this area and I know what it takes to be successful and this area has suffered for a long time. This has to be a priority."
The chamber questionnaire was five questions long. More questions and answers are available at https://chambermaster.blob.core.windows.net/userfiles/UserFiles/chambers/2242/File/ or by contacting the chamber.
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