Creston— The Southwestern Community College (SWCC) board of directors met on Tuesday, July 12, 2022, at 5:30 p.m., in the college’s Administration Center, for their regular board meeting.

Dr. Tony Cass of Creston, board president, informed the board Vicki Sickels of Mount Ayr is stepping down from her position as board member. Cass thanked Sickels for her “time, talent, and service” to the college. Sickels has been the District 7 representative on Southwestern’s board since 2008. At the conclusion of the meeting, Cass presented Sickels with a plaque and Sickels thanked board members and college administrators, citing her time as a board member had gone quickly and she was proud of how the college had grown and changed during her years of service.

Cass appointed a committee of himself; Jerry Smith, board member of Osceola; and Fred Shearer, board vice president of Corning, to work to fill the vacancy left by Sickels’ resignation. The replacement member will serve until the District 7 term is up in 2023. Then, the board member may choose to run for the open board position during general elections.

The board approved the agreement reached between the college’s Education Association and Southwestern Community College. The agreement included a salary pool increase of 3.5 percent.

In personnel, the board approved the employment of Ben Heath as electrical technology instructor. Lindsay Stoaks, SWCC vice president of instruction, explained to the board Heath would be a co-instructor for the program alongside current electrical technology instructor Jon Oswald. Stoaks stated SWCC’s electrical technology program is experiencing historic enrollment and that is what led them to hire an additional instructor. Stoaks said the college expects to have approximately 20 full-time first-year students; 22 full-time second-year students; and 10 high school Career Academy students enrolled in the program during the 2022-23 academic year.

Heath earned his Associate of Applied Science Degree in electrical technology from SWCC in 2016. He has spent the past seven years with the Local Union 347 in Ankeny.

The board approved resignations for three faculty members effective at the end of their current contract years. These instructors included Dr. Dan Platt, English instructor; Micah Elefson, welding instructor; and Heather McLain, nursing instructor.

Stoaks told the board she would be bringing additional instructor recommendations for the 2022-23 academic year to the August board meeting.

The board moved to extend the contracts of Stoaks, vice president of instruction, and John Franklin, assistant vice president of instruction, through June 30, 2023, with salary increases of 3.5 percent.

Stoaks updated the board regarding SWCC’s building partnership contract with Habitat for Humanity. She said this will be the ninth year of the joint project, which will see the construction of a home on Habitat for Humanity-owned property at 616 N. Walnut in Creston. Stoaks said the project provides required lab experience for students without incurring the expense and risk associated with building a spec home. Following her presentation, the board approved the college entering into the partnership agreement with Habitat for Humanity.

During board members’ reports, Smith, who is SWCC’s Iowa Association of Community College Trustees (IACCT) representative, mentioned the annual conference for IACCT is next week in Sioux City. In addition, he told board members about the IACCT legislative work group he is a part of and talked briefly about current priorities and concerns for community colleges at the state level. He noted increasing discussions around the topic of urban vs. rural, but said he feels community colleges have done a nice job of communicating and supporting each other. He also mentioned the voucher bill Gov. Kim Reynolds proposed and said he believes there will be continued conversations about moving funds from public to private schools in the coming years.

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