Among the many offices on the ballot this year are two positions of particular importance to Powell voters.
Two seats representing Powell are open on the Northwest College Board of Trustees. The incumbents in those seats, Jim Vogt and Carolyn Danko, are seeking to return to the board, and they are being challenged by Rick LaPlante and Kim Dillivan.
Whatever the outcome of the vote, the board will have a number of serious issues to deal with. There has been turmoil at NWC in recent months marked by conflict and communication issues that have affected morale. A mediation process is under way to address those issues, and its outcome will have a major impact on the college.
A number of key people have retired or moved on to new positions and will have to be replaced in the coming months.
Northwest College has experienced rising enrollment for the past two years, a positive sign, but should that trend continue, it raises new challenges in staffing and facilities, especially if the current economic downturn requires cuts in state funding. NWC and the state's other community colleges will have to join in working with the Legislature to ensure adequate funding levels.
NWC also faces the challenges that are affecting educational institutions all over the nation. Education in the United States is undergoing change, and some of those changes involve the role of junior colleges and their relationships to both high schools and four-year colleges and universities. Those changes may affect course offerings at Northwest College and the way learning is delivered to students.
Finally, the college is nearing the end of the accreditation process, and administrators and faculty members continue to work to weave gaols in the college's strategic plan into everyday operation, teaching and learning at Northwest.
The NWC board will have a big role in dealing with all of those challenges.
NWC is a major asset to the city of Powell, both for its economic impact and its contributions to our quality of life. For that reason, Powell residents should not approach their votes for the NWC board casually.
Residents have the opportunity to learn more about each candidate during a forum at 7 p.m. tonight (Thursday) at the college.
We urge voters to carefully consider all the candidates for the NWC board and cast their votes thoughtfully.