Although community colleges have felt some love at the federal level recently — President Barack Obama called for two years of free community college — there’s still plenty of concern about the immediate future given that colleges are rebounding from a recession.
College administrators are eyeing what the future of their schools should be, given increased competition from other schools offering on-line courses.
Johnson County Community College trustees are the elected officials on the line when deciding the college’s future direction. Three spots on the seven-member board are up for election April 7. Six candidates, including two incumbents, are running, all at-large. Voters can select three or fewer candidates on their ballots.
The candidates are Larry Fotovich, Nancy Ingram, Patricia Lightner, Mark Read and incumbents David Lindstrom and Greg Musil.
Larry Fotovich is concerned that the college is moving in the direction of a vocational school. He said the types of training that used to be provided on the job are favored by some state legislators to help businesses, rather than helping students get prerequisites for four-year degrees more affordably. “It’s all about helping business when it should be helping students,” said Fotovich, who also is running for the Blue Valley school board.
Nancy Ingram said in an email she would be committed to laying the groundwork for the college’s future. She said the college trustees must prepare for changes in how education is delivered to keep it strong for the future. She pledged to go “beyond conventional thinking” to keep the college accessible in the future.
Patricia Lightner said she wants to ensure the college maintains its high standards while remaining affordable and accessible. The college should consider expanding its online courses to stay competitive with other institutions, she said. That would allow more courses without adding any “brick and mortar.” Lightner also said the school should improve its counseling for degree seekers.
David Lindstrom is most concerned with maintaining the college’s excellence in courses while being fiscally responsible to make the most use of limited funds. He said the college needs to build a higher awareness of its events and programs in the community.
Greg Musil wants to build the school’s reserves back up now that the recession is fading. He said that the reserves are necessary as a rainy day fund and that the college drew on them during the recession, when raising taxes would not have been feasible. He also said the school will have to consider online offerings to stay competitive and provide a good mix of technical and skilled courses along with degree prep for four-year students.
Mark Read said his primary goal is to be an advocate for public education. He said grade-point averages needed to get into Kansas Regents institutions will increase in two years and that will mean an influx of students to JCCC who need to build up their grades. Read wants the college to offer remedial support as well as advanced support for students in degree programs.
Education: Bachelor’s in journalism, University of Kansas 1986
Occupation: Real estate broker
Elected experience: Gardner City Council, 2011-14
Education: Bachelor’s in home economics, nutrition/dietetics, Kansas State University, 1976
Occupation: Retired medical professional
Website: nancyingram.org; facebook.com/pages/ Nancy-Ingram-JCCC-Board-
Education: Bachelor’s in personnel administration and history of art, University of Kansas, 1981; law degree, Western State University, 1984
Occupation: Compliance auditor and policy specialist, Kansas Securities Commission
Elected experience: Kansas House, 1998-2004
Education: Bachelor’s in education, Boston University, 1977
Occupation: Self-employed, real estate holdings
Elected experience: JCCC trustees, 2012-present; Johnson County Commission, 2003-13
Website: facebook.com/pages/ Lindstrom-for-JCCC-Board- Trustee
Education: Bachelor’s in political science, Kansas State University, 1980; law degree University of Virginia, 1983
Elected experience: JCCC trustee, 2011-present; Overland Park City Council, 1993-2001
Education: Bachelor’s in business administration and computer science, Baylor University, 1992
Occupation: Retired software developer
Elected experience: None