ONTARIO — Treasure Valley Community College officials and members of the TVCC Board of Education subcommittee spent Tuesday afternoon discussing the somewhat tedious rhetoric of specific board policies listed in their handbook. Anne-Marie Kelso, TVCC Human Resources Officer is in the process of updating the employee handbook.
A large portion of the meeting discussion was focused on college board of education duties and responsibilities.
The elected duty and responsibility of board members is extensive and time-consuming. It is the role of the board to conduct themselves ethically, with transparency. Members need to show up to meetings, and those who miss two consecutive meetings, can be removed by the board unless there are personal extenuating circumstances.
Members were given handouts as examples to look to for guidance, from Oregon community colleges with demographics similar to TVCC.
The board’s separate ethics policy was discussed, as well as what duties fell on the shoulders of the board, or the college president. Of the 23 duties listed, each one was discussed.
Certain parameters are built into policy to maintain standards of ethics and responsibility. Young said if an amount of more than $150,000 is spent then it will go to local contract review for procurement. The board is required to consider and act upon reports from the college president/chief executive officer concerning programs and conditions of the college, but Young can not simply create a new program on her own. First, she would have to present it to the board.
While Young said she doesn’t present every single class change to the board for discussion, she said she will present any suggested program changes for review, because program changes are a big deal.
Members of the board, work with President Young in what they hope is the best interest of the college, and everything it encompasses.
Price of higher education
Mark Wettstein, board member voiced his concerns about the price of college. He said his thoughts are focused on the costs of college, and keeping them down.
“Generally what I talked about was the benefit of trying to get through this college debt free, and there’s ways of doing it. That’s been a driving pact with me since day one. And it probably will be until I die. I just have always been in angst about all the debt these kids take on, and they shouldn’t have to.”
Wettstein said he has been trying to educate people on accomplishing as many college classes as possible while in high school.
“And then you should only have to stay at home one more year, graduate then if you want to go in debt, fine. I just think there’s a way of getting through TVCC without having to take on a big debt load.”
Weighing public feedback
Another issue for board members was considering public comment during and outside of board meetings. Wettstein asked, “Well you can consider it, but I guess the big question is what do you do with it?”
Crow, said he makes a practice of referring the public’s questions to Young.
“Anything, I would take it to her. I call her with some things that are so little. If I am stopped at Albertsons about this? I immediately stop and call or text her, and I know she follows up,” Crow said.
“I do.” Young said.
Crow said he liked the idea of dialogue with community members stopping and talking to him at the store. Board members have the right to their own opinion, and they can state they are really upset if a program is cancelled. They can also write letters expressing their own opinion as long as they are not acting or speaking on behalf of the board (unless a vote has happened, and they are given the authority to act on behalf of the board.)
“What you want to try to avoid is personal attacks, and the attacks against an individual at the college, be it a faculty member, an administrator, a board member — the idea behind having a personal opinion is to stick to the issue, and to stay away from individuals. Right? Focus on the issue. So again, if you are upset about a program being closed, you’re certainly entitled to your opinion about that, but you shouldn’t focus it on an individual within that program, if that makes sense,” Young said.
After extensive review of policy, Young and Kelso, will provide members with more examples of what other community colleges have implemented for board policy, and clarify them, so that board members understand their individual roles within the board, while also providing some flexibility when necessary.