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JCCC Board of Trustees candidates on the issues: Qualifications for managing operation as large as JCCC

Jay Senter - October 14, 2019 4:30 pm

Last month, we asked our readers what issues they wanted to hear the candidates running for local office address ahead of this fall’s local elections primary. Based on the input we received, we developed a five-item questionnaire for the candidates running for JCCC Board of Trustees.

Today, we begin publishing the candidates’ responses. The first question was as follows:

JCCC is a major operation, with an annual budget of more than $150 million and a staff of more than 1,500 employees. What professional experiences would you bring to the role of trustee that make you qualified to guide such a large organization?

Lori Bell

As a bank Compliance Auditor and Consultant, I have worked closely with leaders in organizations and provided recommendations on changes to operations, financial impacts, processes, cultures and employees. I have also worked in several large organizations myself that have gone through change. Previously I have served as a Vice President/Treasurer for AIGA KC setting annual budgets and producing monthly reports. I earned my Masters in Business Administration in Finance degree from Baker University. I believe all of these experiences will lend to the role of a Trustee directly. It is the role of the Trustee to ensure policies and procedures are being implemented and followed to allow the school to grow and meet the needs of students according to the Higher Learning Commission. I plan to ensure that JCCC continues that path and receives ongoing accreditation.

Colleen Cunningham

I’ve completed doctoral coursework in Educational Policy and Leadership Studies, taught at the University of Iowa, taught Special Education in Shawnee Mission, and, prior to my masters degree, was an administrator at a group home for people with disabilities. While the budgets I’ve worked with in the past are smaller, JCCC has roughly 135 administrators responsible for budgets, combined with internal and external auditors who report directly to the board and its committees. As a Trustee, my responsibility would be to use those reports, and many others, in cooperation with the other Trustees, to set policies and directions for the staff, faculty, and administration. This means the most important requirement should be that Trustees are able to synthesize information, work collaboratively, ask smart questions, and be able to put the school and our community first, avoiding even the appearance of conflicts of interest.

Since deciding to run for this position, I’ve reviewed budgets, attended meetings, and discussed the school with faculty, students, and many others in our community. I am proud to say that this dedication has been recognized with my endorsement by the JCCC Faculty Association.

Jameia Haines

Working in corporate management for nearly 20 years has afforded me the opportunity to work with multi-million dollar budgets, employee oversight and the accompanying policies. My civic engagement has involved oversight of various budgets as well such as Community Development Block Grant fund distribution, church Finance Committee leadership and Homeowner’s Association budgeting. In translating those experiences to the Board of Trustee’s role I believe that Johnson County Community College’s budget is a plan for achieving its mission. Thus, the Board of Trustees set policies that have great impact on the College. It is a trustee’s responsibility to ensure that the public’s money is being used effectively and appropriately while achieving the goals of educational excellence. I am confident that my professional experience along with my personal engagement within the community qualifies me to do so.

Nancy Ingram (incumbent)

As a current trustee, I serve this year as chair of the management committee at Johnson County Community College, where the budget and finances are the primary focus. Having reviewed the annual budgets the past four years, as well as the facilities master plan, repeatedly, during my tenure, I have also spent time with our finance department to learn and ask questions about financing bonds, our investments, assets, revenues, expenditures and the development of the budget. The annual budget of approximately $150 million is a tremendous responsibility, with 71% going toward faculty and staff salaries and benefits. My previous budgeting experience includes several budget and finance positions on a number of non-profits, including my time as Executive Director of the Olathe Public Schools Foundation, where development, oversight and growth of the budget was a primary responsibility of my position in the role of leadership.

Greg Musil (incumbent)

I believe I have the most direct experience of anyone in this race – not as a “consultant” or someone who “studied” organizational dynamics or educational policies, but rather as an engaged, involved, questioning member of the Board of Trustee.  Along with 8 years on this Board, I served for 8 years on the Overland Park City Council, in both instances setting budgets and priorities for a large government entity. I’ve chaired the Management Committee at the College and served on the Finance Committee for Overland Park. I understand that tax revenues need to be treated as if it were my own money – not as an unending pot from which to spend.  I have experience in budgeting, taxation, human resources, security and other aspects of the largest community college in Kansas and the second-largest city in Kansas.    I’ve also worked with private businesses, from sole proprietorships to Fortune 500 companies, gaining a broad understanding of accounting, financing and customer service best practices.  Your College is successfully providing student success and the next generation of work force.  We should entrust that success to candidates who care about reasonable and prudent financial practices , not those whose first impulse is to spend tax dollars.

Laura Smith-Everett

I have been an educator for 17 years serving in a variety of roles, currently in Shawnee Mission Public Schools. During my career I have worked for universities, large school districts, small school districts, urban and suburban districts and even Johnson County Community College. I have been on committees, site councils, and leadership teams of every variety. I have presented in front of boards; I have been the beneficiary of board decisions; and I have suffered the consequences because of board decisions. I have worked with leaders who have inspired every level of their organization with clear and progressive educational visions. I have worked for leaders who have driven their institutions to near ruin. Educational institutions are large and varied, each with its own set of circumstances. However, at the center of each of them are students. No matter my job title, my career’s work has always been to create success for students. I have a deep-seated belief that education is the great equalizer in American society. The students in my classes today are The College’s students tomorrow. As someone who works daily in a K-12 environment, I would bring first hand understanding of the changing educational landscape and ensure we keep students at the heart of all that we do. I guess you could say I have been preparing for this role for 17 years.

Johnson County Community College has always had a rich history of educators on its board ensuring that there are voices for students and faculty. We are currently reaping the rich legacy that those trustees like Hugh Speer and Virginia Krebs left for us. In the last few years, JCCC Faculty have expressed frustration and growing mistrust with The College’s administration and board. Students have spoken out about the need for more diverse faculty and staff. These concerns and requests have been met with resistance and even hostility. Perhaps that is to be expected with a board composed predominantly of businessmen and lawyers. With my presence on The Board, we would bring back a balance. We would ensure that 50 years from now our community has a thriving community college that values educators and is prepared to serve all students.

Tomorrow we’ll publish the candidates’ responses to item two:

Property valuations have been going up across Johnson County in recent years — which means that taxing entities have seen tax revenues they receive from local residents rising as well. What’s your philosophy on setting property tax rates when property values go up? Should the board be looking to reduce the mill levy in such situations?

Community Calendar

Thu 17
Thu 17

Sunflower Poetry Slam and Open Mic

October 17 @ 6:00 pm - 7:30 pm
Sat 19

Lenexa Farmers Market

October 19 @ 8:00 am - 12:00 pm
Tue 22

Leawood Garden Club Meeting October 2019

October 22 @ 10:30 am - 1:00 pm
Tue 22

Climate Action KC

October 22 @ 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

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