The Feather River College Board of Directors met Sept. 12, welcoming new faculty and new programs, while also approving the final budget for 2019-20.
Four new faculty members introduced themselves to the board. Impressive for their qualifications, they are focused on expanding programs and increasing quality, with an eye toward student success both at FRC and beyond.
Darlene Oertle, Allied Health Director – Nursing, is a 1995 FRC alumnus. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Chico State University in environmental health and public health. She also has a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Her goal, she said, is “to restore some of our clinical relationships that fell off over the last few years.”
Mitch Walterson, math/physics instructor, has his Ph.D. in both disciplines. Previously, he taught at the University of Nebraska, Omaha.
He plans to develop the physics program, and rebuild the physics lab “from the ground up.” Walterson hopes to build a program that will allow students to transfer successfully to a four-year college.
Joshua Olivera is the new art instructor and program coordinator. He has a BFA from Chico State University as well as a MFA with an emphasis in painting and teaching. He previously taught at Butte College, where he “taught it all.”
His primary goal, he said, is to increase enrollment and get more students to major in studio art. Olivera also wants to make sure art transfer students are successful.
In addition, Olivera said he has already been in contact with Roxanne Valladao, executive director of Plumas Arts, in an effort to “figure out how the art program and the community can dovetail.”
When asked, he said his personal specialty is “steel, wood, and resin sculptures that hang like paintings.”
Finally, Nick Maez is the new mental and behavioral health counselor. He received his MSW from the University of Denver in 2013. He also has a postgraduate program certificate in Integrated Trauma-Informed Care and Interpersonal Trauma Studies. He’s going into his 11th year of practice.
His goal, he said, is to provide quality counseling services and increase student engagement. He currently has a caseload of 30 students.
Maez was enthusiastic about the level of engagement he is seeing already from students. He reported that the night before the board meeting, the college hosted the screening of a suicide prevention movie, and “40 kids showed up to watch.”
He also said they have already engaged 14 peer educators, both athletes and general students. “They’re the ones who make it happen,” Maez said.
2019-20 final budget
College President Dr. Kevin Trutna, summarized the “budget highlights” for the board. Last year, revenue was higher than expenses by $282,000. In fact, he said, “in 15 out of the past 16 years, we’ve been in the black,” which also includes increases to the capital reserve.
“When I first started,” said Trutna, “we routinely transferred money from the beginning fund balance throughout the school year. We haven’t done that in a number of years.”
Further, he stated that FRC now has built in contingency accounts to handle overruns and surprises, even though they don’t always have to use it.
He also noted an increase in the fiscal reserve. This last year, it was “the seventh largest percentage in the state. Almost two thirds of the state is declining in enrollment,” said Trutna.
On campus FTES (full time equivalent students) grew by 35, or 4.4 percent. And, the college awarded 5.4 percent more degrees in 2019 than in the previous year.
CEO Jim Scoubes gave the detailed budget report. In response to a query by board member Trent Saxton, he noted that the biggest increases were due to statewide cost of living adjustments to salaries in the amount of $181,000. Employee step increases added an additional $73,000. These resulted in attendant increases in payroll benefits.
The 2019-2020 Budget was adopted after unanimous approval by the board.