JCCC Board of Trustees candidates on the issues: Should Kansas pursue a plan to make community college free?


Today we continue with the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees candidates’ responses to our general election questionnaire. Here’s item number two:

Some states, including New York, Tennessee and Oregon, offer programs that make community college tuition free to students who meet certain qualifications. Would you support a similar initiative in Kansas? If so, how would you envision it working?

Cross-CollegeLee Cross (incumbent)

Yes, I would support such an initiative and measure. There are many ways to do this, and leaders in both parties across the country have done so. In Tennessee especially, led in part by a Republican Governor, they have instituted cost free community college to some students. For some specifics on this question, I have found this website to be useful.


Angeliina_LawsonAngeliina Lawson

Yes. In several states, high demand vocations are provided low cost to no cost opportunities through their community college. This is a smart long-term investment. Communities have immediate need of skills, and offering cheaper paths to those skills benefits the community. Many states have discovered something we already know: a community college is an economic engine for the community. Giving more Johnson County residents access to in-need skills grows our tax base and improves our community. I would strongly support such initiatives.

Chris RoeselRoesel

To get great contributors to our economy, we need to invest in them.

To clarify, about supporting making JCCC free, I talked with my classmates (I am currently enrolled in JCCC). Some work nights. Some work 60 hours a week and take 18 semester hours of demanding courses. Some work in bars. Some in Costco. You get the picture. For comparison, I asked the same questions to one of my daughters. She worked in a university lab 6 hour a week and never took more nor less than 12 semester hours of coursework. My daughter graduated first in her chemical engineering class and continued to MIT. She accomplished that because she could dedicate herself to her studies, read her textbooks, review her notes, do all her homework, and prepare for tests. The state and others paid 75% of her costs. My wife and I paid the other $4,000 a year. MIT was free because we were too poor. My daughter immediately started a high-paying job she has had ever since upon graduation. My conclusion is that, to get good contributors to our economy, we need to invest in them.

Yes, we need to ensure situations where students can invest their time, effort, and focus in their studies, not in earning a living at $7.50 to $12 an hour. Most countries provide free higher education to their populations. We need to, also.

How should affordable educations be made available? I already said I use whole systems planning methods like the future search conference to plan. I don’t impose my solution. To plan holistically, one invites the major businesses, the major donors, the faculty, the students, the administration, tax lawyers, etc., and develops visions and plans that everyone believes in and supports. Whole systems planning is not about an idea that some politician pops out. It is about every perspective, analysis, hope, and aspiration being included in planning. It is about making what we agree on happen, not fighting about areas we disagree.

In support of what can happen using these methods, using them, I obtained $20 million in grants to help the poorest in the world improve their lives and decrease their disease and death rates. Amazing things happen when one works with all sectors in an inclusive, respectful, purposeful way.

Yes, I think tuition should be free if students are studying well. Please vote for me for Trustee Nv 7. Mail voting starts 10/18/17.

SandateHenry Sandate (incumbent)

I do not support free tuition to students. We already have a mechanism in place with scholarships for those that qualify.

Paul Sniderpaul-Snider

The state of Kansas does not currently have the resources to offer free tuition, but that shouldn’t stop the discussion. While JCCC has worked hard to keep tuition affordable, free or reduced tuition would open the door to additional students seeking to advance their education and skills.

There are a number of policy considerations that would need to be debated before moving forward with such a proposal. Such considerations include: is a B average the appropriate prerequisite to participate; what impact does it have on the state’s four-year schools; is it open only to recent high school graduates; and, if County taxpayers are funding directly, should it only benefit County residents?
Many more questions would be generated with such a discussion. But reviews of existing programs appear to show success and merit. It’s worth noting the JCCC Foundation awards more than $1 million in scholarships every year.


Jerry_Cook_JCCCJerry Cook (incumbent)

Yes. However, I believe each student should have a personal financial investment. I continue to process what that amount should be.

Note: We did not receive a response from candidate Benjamin Hodge.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item three: Under a law passed by the Kansas legislature that went into effect this year, students on public college campuses are now permitted to carry concealed weapons. Do you support students’ ability to carry concealed weapons on JCCC’s campus? Why or why not?