NWC begins managing community education programming

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Powell Valley Community Education is now operating under the umbrella of Northwest College.

Under a contract approved last month, the college is responsible for Powell Valley Community Education’s day-to-day operations and programming.

“It’s a win-win situation, I believe,” said Don Hansen, who serves on the Park County School District No. 1 Board of Trustees and the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES).

Elected leaders from NWC and the school district jointly serve on the BOCES board, which is still ultimately in charge of Powell Valley Community Education.

While PVCE has undergone transitions in recent months, community education programming has continued and plans are moving forward for fall programs, said Anna Sapp, coordinator of the NWC Center for Training and Development.

“There’s been change to PVCE and we know that the community — as with any change — has concerns,” Sapp said. “But it is in good hands.”

PVCE’s fall line-up includes old, familiar programs as well as new ones, Sapp said.

“The catalog will come out early in September as it always does, and we’re looking forward to the fall programming,” she said. “I think the public will like the changes.”

There has been some overlap in PVCE and NWC workforce training programs in the past, BOCES leaders said.

“We can improve everything just by the savings we have by not doubling up on things,” Hansen said.

The new arrangement “allows us to maximize what we can offer on both the community education side and the workforce and training side, because of the overlaps there,” Sapp said.

In years past, most of the BOCES budget went toward the two salaries for its staff. With less money going toward personnel and administration costs, NWC President Stefani Hicswa said most of the budget will be spent on programming for the community.

Under the new agreement, the college will hire only one full-time employee in the NWC Center for Training and Development to oversee PVCE programming with the assistance of a part-time work/study student. A committee met Monday to discuss hiring for the new full-time position.

For its assistance in running PVCE, Northwest College will receive an 8 percent management fee, which amounts to $7,709 for the fiscal year.

The BOCES board continues to control the organization’s assets, and will still have final say on its budget and programming.

“The bank accounts and everything will stay in place, and we’ll just run everything through the college infrastructure, based on payment from BOCES,” Hicswa said last month.

Powell Valley Community Education will continue to be housed in the NWC Center for Training and Development, as it has been for years.

BOCES leaders have discussed changes to PVCE since its longtime director, Ingrid Eickstedt, retired earlier this year.

After the Powell school board unanimously agreed to allow the BOCES board to proceed with the contract for services with Northwest College last month, the BOCES board approved the contract on June 21.

The contract will be reviewed every year.

“It should be positive going forward,” said Greg Borcher, who serves on the school board and BOCES board, last month.

On Thursday evening, the BOCES board unanimously approved its $117,862 budget for the fiscal year, which goes through June 30.

The BOCES budget is funded by a tax on property within the Powell school district. The district collects a 0.375 mill levy for BOCES, which is expected to generate $72,903 this year.

To balance the $117,862 budget, BOCES leaders agreed to take $23,459 from reserves. After that amount is transferred, the BOCES reserve accounts total $269,573.

In an effort to reduce BOCES reserves and give taxpayers a bit of a break, school board leaders voted to lower the mill last year.

During their meeting Thursday, BOCES leaders talked about how to manage the reserve funds, which currently are in six separate certificate of deposit (CD) accounts.

“One of my biggest pet peeves in the early days was purely the maintenance of the CDs, and the chasing of taking money out and putting money back in,” said Dusty Spomer, who serves as BOCES board chairman and a NWC board member.

With rates so low, the interest from the accounts only amounted to several dollars and wasn’t worth spending a lot of time on, he said.

Board members voted Thursday to roll the separate CDs into only two accounts as each CD comes due.

“It will simplify our books,” Spomer said.

During their next meeting this fall, board members plan to look at options for spending some of the BOCES reserves toward more community education opportunities.

“I think it will be a good discussion,” Sapp said. “I’m hoping that when that comes about, we look at the broad spectrum of what we can do and think beyond the box.”

On Thursday, BOCES board members also decided to sell the PVCE van. Aside from the money in reserves, the van is BOCES’ only other asset.

NWC will use its own vehicles for community education excursions, Sapp said. BOCES has no real use for the van, Hansen said.

Board members agreed to follow a sealed bid process to sell it. Money from the van sale will go back into community education, Spomer said.

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