The State Fair Community College Board of Trustees met Thursday afternoon for a work session and regular board meeting via video conferencing in light of the campus closure announced Tuesday. 

The meeting was available for public viewing on the SFCC YouTube channel. Discussion of the COVID-19 pandemic and talks of the 2020-21 budget dominated the meetings.

Following discussion during the work session, trustees voted in open session to approve the following base tuition and fees rates: in-district residents $117 per credit hour ($2 increase), Missouri residents $175 per credit hour ($5 increase), non-Missouri residents $237 per credit hour ($7 increase), and dual-credit to remain at $79 per credit hour. Tiered tuition rates will increase proportionately per the base. 

According to information in the board meeting packet, “the rate for covered individuals under 38 U.S.C. 3679 (Veterans’ Benefits) including Whiteman Air Force Base active duty personnel, their spouse and dependent children that do not meet the in-district residency requirements is set at the board-approved ‘Missouri resident’ tuition rate.” 

The tuition and fees will be effective for the Fall 2020 semester through Summer 2021. 

According to Vice President for Finance, Payroll and Facilities Keith Acuff, the tuition rate increase is significantly less than last year and is in line with what other community colleges have indicated for the fall.

“At this time, unlike many businesses and other colleges, we are not planning for any cutback,” Acuff said. “Our intention is to serve our students and the citizens of our service region as best as possible within the restrictions and guidelines required to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.” 

The uncertainty of the nationwide pandemic is causing SFCC to evaluate its budget. 

During the work session, Acuff said everyone at the college needs to give “extra scrutiny to every item we have,” stating “is it absolutely critical, is it mandatory or is it something that we can forgo and put off for a year? We need to be looking at everything with scrutiny that we have never looked at before.” 

Acuff also provided the board with an overview of the potential effects the COVID-19 crisis may have on the college's budget.

“Based upon regional demographics and the decline in the size of the high school graduating classes in SFCC’s service region, our FY2021 budget planning process includes an anticipated 3% decline in fall enrollment,” Acuff told the Democrat. “With tuition and fees representing approximately 60% of SFCC’s operating budget, a 3% decline in enrollment would mean approximately a 1.8% decrease in our overall budget.

“With the pandemic, we will be monitoring enrollment closely,” Acuff continued. “The new stimulus package includes some funds to assist students in attending post-secondary education. As we learn more about the stimulus package, we can better understand the potential impact, negative or even positive.”

Acuff predicted that based on current figures and predictions, SFCC is facing a total potential revenue impact for the remainder of 2020 of a $992,387 loss. That includes potential losses of $685,797 in withholdings from state payments and holdbacks, a potential loss of $167,000 in operational revenue impacts and a loss of $130,590 in student refunds for student housing and dining.

Once final approval of FY2021 is made, trustees voted to approve the full-time faculty, exempt, and administrative positions as presented. 

In response to the national COVID-19 health crisis, trustees approved a resolution granting SFCC President Dr. Joanna Anderson temporary authority in the following: 

• The Board authorizes and grants authority to the president to place into immediate effect temporary lawful policies, procedures, or other measures, which she deems necessary or appropriate to meet the COVID-19 public health emergency, including but not limited to safeguarding persons and property and maintaining college activities as appropriate. 

• Temporary lawful policies, procedures, or other measures adopted by the president under this authorization shall be effective notwithstanding any contrary provisions and shall remain in effect until such time identified by the president or the board, or until such time as the board withdraws the authority granted in this resolution or otherwise directs. 

• The president shall keep the board advised as to policies, procedures, or other measures adopted under this resolution. 

SFCC administrators have also created the SFCC COVID-19 Task Force to help guide decisions during the temporary shutdown of SFCC’s campuses and facilities.

Members include Anderson, Vice President of Academic and Student Support Services Dr. Brent Bates, Deans Jim Cunningham, Dr. Rhonda Hutton Gann, Michael Rogg and Dr. Autumn Porter, Athletics Director Darren Pannier, Acuff, IT Services Chief Information Officer Mark Haverly, Human Resources Executive Director Rachel Dawson, and Marketing and Communications Executive Director Brad Henderson.

Each member reported to trustees regarding the work they and their staff have done in preparation of the campus closure. 

Anderson praised the work of all SFCC faculty and staff as well as the committee for their efforts during the pandemic. 

“Because decisions were made (prior to the closure of the campus) I feel really good classes will start back next week (online),” Anderson noted. “We appreciate the public’s understanding during the closure.” 

In other actions trustees:

• Voted to renew the college’s previous contract with Dakota’s Lawn Service for $900 per mow. The approximate cost is $30,000 per year. Funding is through the Facilities Management Annual Operations Budget. The college reserves the right to take back mowing service in light of the campus shutdown if SFCC maintenance staff are available to do the mowing.  

• Approved payment of bills for February in the amount of $3,058,425.

• Hosted a closed session for considering lease, purchase, or sale of real estate; pending legal actions; and hiring, firing, disciplining, or promotion of personnel. 

During the video conference, Trustee Jim Page’s votes were not recorded due to technical issues. Page was available by audio but was unable to link in by video which meant his votes could not be accepted.  

The next regular meeting is scheduled for 4 p.m. April 23.

Education Reporter

Hope Lecchi is the education reporter for the Democrat, covering all things education in Sedalia and Pettis County, as well as providing general assignment and feature coverage. She can be reached at 660-530-0144.

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