What to do about declining enrollment? Is the college’s property tax rate too high? And how will COVID-19 change the campus experience going forward?
These were some of the questions that candidates vying for the Johnson County Community College Board of Trustees answered last night in the Post’s first general election forum of 2021.
Eight candidates spoke at the forum, including:
- attorney Lee Cross (incumbent trustee)
- accountant Mark Hamill,
- former state rep Joy Koesten,
- Cerner executive Gerry Malnar,
- student Jae Moyer,
- engineer and gym owner Dawn Rattan,
- retired businessman/trader Wayne Sandberg
- and consultant Paul Snider (incumbent trustee).
Martha Davis’ name will also appear on the ballot, but she does not appear to be running an active campaign and did not respond to the Post’s requests to participate.
The top four vote-getters in the Nov. 2 election will earn a seat on the board.
The forum was streamed live on the Shawnee Mission Post’s Facebook page, and the entire forum can also be viewed at the embedded link below.
Here are the questions and their corresponding time stamps to help readers find the candidates’ answers more quickly:
- Opening statements: the candidates introduce themselves and why they are running for office. Starts at 4:10
- What do you think is the most urgent challenge currently facing JCCC? And what steps would you take to help meet this challenge during your next four years in office? Starts at 14:00
- Enrollment has declined during the pandemic, accentuating a longer trend of falling headcount. The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, for what it’s worth, projects another credit hour enrollment drop of 3%. What do you think needs to be done to ensure JCCC’s enrollment rebounds or at least stabilizes … and that the college remains an attractive option for students amid the challenge of the pandemic and beyond? Starts at 28:35
- JCCC gets most of its annual revenue — roughly 67% — from property taxes. Of course, rising property values, which are causing increases in annual tax bills, concern many Johnson County residents. JCCC in recent years has taken in more revenue through property taxes even though the Board has consistently voted to decrease the property tax rate. The proposed rate for this coming year is set to be slightly lower, but it is higher than the revenue neutral rate. What is your position on JCCC’s property tax rate? Is it where it needs to be or should it be lower? If you propose lowering the rate, how — it at all — would you make up for that potential loss in revenue? Starts at 42:50
- JCCC is requiring masks be worn in most indoor settings on campus this fall. This was a decision made by the executive policy group led by President Andy Bowne and not by the Board of Trustees directly. Do you agree with JCCC’s approach to COVID-19 mitigation this academic year? And how do you think the pandemic could impact the campus experience going forward? Starts at 56:45
- What is the current or future project, proposal or idea you have that you are most excited about and why do you think it’s important for JCCC’s future? Starts at 1:09:35
- Closing statements start at 1:15:10