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SWCC board legislative priorities to include request for additional general aid

A sign out front of Southwestern Community College reminds students to follow COVID-19 protocols, specifically to wear their face coverings as they return for fall semester. The SWCC board of directors met to discuss these things and more via electronic means at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.
A sign out front of Southwestern Community College reminds students to follow COVID-19 protocols, specifically to wear their face coverings as they return for fall semester. The SWCC board of directors met to discuss these things and more via electronic means at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The Southwestern Community College board of directors met electronically at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday to discuss enrollment, the college’s response to COVID-19, and the Iowa Association of Community College Trusteesálegislative priorities resolution.

Fall enrollment at SWCC is down 5% from last year at just over 1,500 students with approximately 14,000 credit hours, Dean of Student Services Kim Bishop said.

“We’re seeing this kind of enrollment fluctuation with a lot of [Iowa] colleges. So, the students were a little slower to enroll, waiting to see if we would be online or blended or what we would be doing,” SWCC President Dr. Barb Crittenden said. “Our concurrent enrollment had been running fairly significantly behind, [but] it did come up in the final weeks.”

SWCC students are in the process of adapting to a different set of guidelines this semester, but Bishop said they are adjusting well.

“The students really have done a fantastic job following the COVID-19 protocols, by wearing their face coverings and following social-distancing guidelines. We actually launched a new electronic student absence form [Tuesday] to provide students an easier avenue to report any illnesses, exposure to COVID-19, or a positive COVID-19 test,” Bishop said. “I’m following up on all of them and communicating them with appropriate staff and instructors, as well. So overall, very pleased with our students and how they’re conducting themselves and keeping our campus safe.”

IACCTálegislative priorities

SWCC Vice President Jerry Smith, who is also the designated IACCT representative, summarized the legislative priorities before an action was taken and explained the rational behind asking for a 3% increase in state general aid.

“Our ask is going to be in the vicinity of $7 million, or there abouts,” Smith said.

Smith then discussed the justification behind asking for additional dollars.

“One, is obviously the role we play in trying to bring the economy back following the virus,” Smith said. “And the other is we’re constantly trying to impress upon legislators that there really is a significant imbalance in how much general aid goes to regent and small private colleges verses community colleges.”

The board voted unanimously to pass the priorities resolution as presented. All 125 IACCT trustees will review and vote on the resolution.

In other SWCC news

• SWCC Vice President of Economic Development Tom Lesan discussed the bond trac report, including the three companies they chose approximatley three months ago. He said two of the companies are going as planned, and one company is requiring more attention from them, as they are having trouble getting withholding started.

• The board discussed asset protection with Phil Tyler, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Tyler Insurance Agency. No action was taken by the board.

• The board briefly discussed the distribution of emergency aid grants. A total of $293,694 was available to students. A total of $290,615 has been issued. Approximately $3,000 remains. The number of students served with an emergency aid grant was 471.

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