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Contract between FRC and Butte approved

The Feather River College Board of Trustees voted at its February meeting to approve the Instructional Service Agreement between FRC and Butte County Office of Education (BCOE) for BCOE to provide instructional and other services effective July 1, 2020, through June 30, 2025.

FRC is responsible for the education program described in the agreement. BCOE recruits and administers the program. Participants sign up for courses through FRC, and instructors and course content is FRC approved. The lucrative program brings in approximately 400 FTES (full time equivalent students) each year.

Trustee Trent Saxton again brought up a $500,000 payment owed to FRC by BCOE accrued over the past two years.

According to FRC President Kevin Trutna, this debt resulted from missing information in student applications. FRC is trying to correct as many of these as possible so that they can collect the expected payments. The debt appears much larger, he said, because the improperly filled out applications were rejected, which automatically put these students into out-of-state (non-resident) status, and out-of-state fees are more than four times as much as the in-state (resident) equivalent.

FRC’s board agreed to resolve the payment issue separately from approving the new contract.

New tenured faculty members

Three faculty members completed their four-year probationary period and were granted tenure by the board.

The newly tenured professors are Richard Leonhardt, business; Merle Rusky, early childhood education; and Dr. Rebecca Easley, mathematics.

A fourth, unnamed faculty member was denied tenure by a unanimous vote of the board in closed session.

Out-of-state tuition approved

The board voted to approve a non-resident tuition of $280 per unit, mirroring that of Shasta College.

It was noted that most out-of-state students, including international students, are athletes. FRC gets paid this higher tuition for approximately 180 students, which add up to 300 FTES (full time equivalents — which means many are taking more than what is considered a full-time course load. There are no athletic scholarships.

Sobering safety report

Nick Boyd, director of facilities, and Trutna offered an update on emergency operations, which include training, planning, communication and resources.

They discussed active shooter training utilizing “talking heads and live rounds,” according to Boyd. He said the most important point they want to get across is that students are now expected to do the opposite of what they were trained to do in past generations.

In the past, classes would meet in the middle of the playground with teachers for fire drills. Now that the threat is more likely from an active shooter, students are taught to flee into the nearby forest.

He noted that “by the time law enforcement gets here, it’s done.” Boyd also said that people shouldn’t be hesitant to call 911 if they see something concerning. “Law enforcement wants to help,” he added.

Boyd also talked about evacuation plans in case of fire which, “from a logistics standpoint, will be a nightmare.”

He said people will be trying to get into campus to get their horses, while people on campus will be trying to flee — all on the same two-lane road. He said they would rely heavily on law enforcement, because people won’t want to be deterred if they’re trying to get their horses, for example, but “people will listen to someone with a gun.”

You’re either on the bus or …

President Trutna brought up the need for new buses, as the current ones, one for approximately 50 students, the other for 36, which are used to transport students and student sports teams, will soon be out of compliance with pollution standards.

He noted that new buses cost about $500,000 apiece. They not only need to transport large numbers of students, they need “Greyhound” like storage space for sports equipment. Boyd is reaching out to vendors.

Trustee Saxton said he’d talked with Kyle Barker at Plumas Unified School District, and the school district has received buses primarily through grant money. He said he’d passed the information he received on to Boyd and Trutna.

When queried, Trutna said this program closed about a year ago, and it is only for public school districts and for regular yellow school busses.

At Trustee Guy McNett’s request, Trutna said he planned to bring back a recommendation regarding bus purchases in the next month or two. “We’d love to start the school year with new buses,” Trutna added.

Trustees go to school

FRC Trustees McNett and Saxton attended the Community College League Effective Trustee Conference and Board Chair workshops.

Saxton reported at the board meeting that he felt the conference offered excellent information. In his written report on his time at the conference, Saxton noted he was “encouraged to keep asking questions at FRC … I am not alone after all.”

McNett attended the board chair workshop. In his written report, he said, “It was very helpful to be in a room of individuals who are all wrestling with the same issues. We are not alone. Items addressed included conducting meetings, chair/college president relationship and oversight vs. micromanagement.”

McNett also commended Trutna for having such a wide network of assets in the community college system, including the chancellor.

“Because of Kevin Trutna, we have access to that network that we wouldn’t have otherwise,” McNett said.

The death of a cadaver

Trutna noted that FRC’s “cadaver has reached the end of its useful life,” and said the college is looking forward to getting a new one.

FRC is talking with UC Davis about pricing and, while they don’t want a “fresh cadaver every year,” they’re looking forward to working on a new cadaver as it has great instructional value in anatomy courses.

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