NWC board authorizes raises

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Employees at Northwest College got some good news when the college’s Board of Trustees met Monday afternoon.

The board approved pay increases for the college’s employees, with most receiving a 4 percent raise; adjunct professors are receiving a raise of $50 per credit-hour taught, from $650 to $700. The total cost of the wage increases will be slightly more than $1 million.

NWC President Stefani Hicswa said the wage increase was a priority for the board.

“The compensation plan that we presented to the board this evening has been the culmination of about two years’ worth of work,” Hicswa said. “As we started to realize that we were out of market ranges to continue to be competitive and to retain our quality employees, we knew we had to do something.”

In December, the NWC trustees approved a resolution making compensation a priority in the budget for the July 2018-June 2019 fiscal year.

“Through various meetings with different employee groups on campus, as well as the finance committee of the board, we came up with this compensation plan,” Hicswa said.

The wage and salary increase for college employees was the highlight of a full agenda at Monday’s meeting. The board also approved a contract for services with the Board of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) — also known as Powell Valley Community Education — after postponing a vote on it last month.

The contract is similar to past agreements between BOCES and the college, but has minor changes.

“The BOCES agreement is something that we worked on and changed a couple of years ago to have the college contract with BOCES to provide community education for Powell,” Hicswa said. “I’m excited that that MOU [memorandum of understanding] has been renewed. I’m pleased with the progress that we have made in continuing to offer community education for the city of Powell.”

The board also voted to make adjustments to the college’s drug and alcohol policies, primarily to clean up language in the policies.

“As we looked at the changes in marijuana laws in surrounding states and states in which our students travel, some faculty members came to us with concerns,” Hicswa said. “The changes that are in the policy strengthen the policy and make it more clear to everyone involved that when you’re traveling as an employee or a student of the college, it is not appropriate to use marijuana, regardless of the state laws where they’re traveling.”

The changes to the alcohol policy, meanwhile, allow event sponsors or faculty advisers to enact stricter alcohol guidelines at events.

“The alcohol policy was strengthened to allow the event sponsors or faculty advisers to have more stringent guidelines when they are traveling with students than what the current policy allows,” Hicswa said. “The current policy allows for students who are over 21, that they may consume adult beverages off-campus.”

Another item of note from Monday’s meeting was that the board voted to change the guidelines for citizens’ open forums at its meetings, making it easier for the public to comment on happenings at meetings.

“That was something that the board talked about at their retreat,” Hicswa said. “They wanted to make those guidelines a little less restrictive and more flexible for citizens who come wishing to address the board. I’m pleased with the changes that [have] been made and I hope the community will, too.”

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