The Laramie County Community College Board of Trustees approved the reauthorization of the one mill levy at the June 20 meeting.
The levy, estimated at just over $1.4 million for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, is authorized by a state statute that allows Community College District Boards to receive funds that provide assistance to the college for two years and is based on the assessed value of the district.
President Dr. Joe Schaffer wrote in his recommendation to approve the renewal that the levy is critical to funding operations at the college.
The levy is used to support the Eastern Laramie County Office in Pine Bluffs along with funding professional development, equipment repairs, small maintenance projects no longer funded by major maintenance state appropriations and other expenditures.
Schaffer also recommended using part of the levy to fund the college’s recent compensation plan. Specific operations funded by the levy can be found in Schaffer’s written recommendation.
Rediscover LCCC, a program launched June 18, is a demonstration project that focuses on need-based, adult-focused financial aid. Schaffer said this program came from recommendations made by all seven community colleges in Wyoming to the Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming (ENDOW) board to increase higher education attainment.
Wyoming’s older population is targeted to increase those attainment numbers, and Schaffer said he wanted to get ahead of the game and created Rediscover LCCC in order to generate data to present to the Wyoming Legislature during the next budget session.
Working with the Ellbogen Foundation and the LCCC Foundation, the program has accumulated $800,000 of financial aid for students enrolled in certain degree programs that are over the age of 25 and have lived in Wyoming for at least three years. The Ellbogen Foundation has granted $600,000 and the LCCC Foundation has granted $200,000, which Schaffer says should last approximately three years.
“The primary purpose of this is for us to set the stage and provide some data and an actual example how an adult-focused, need-based aid program would work for the state of Wyoming,” Schaffer said.
As of June 20, 11 people have applied for the program, and there is a limit of 80 students who can apply for the program this coming fall semester, according to Lisa Trimble, associate vice president of institutional advancement.
Stacy Maestas, the college’s registrar, was invited by Schaffer to speak at the meeting about data collected from the end of the 2018 Spring semester.
Maestas said one interesting piece of information found while tracking the probation and suspension of students is the fact that those numbers are slowly decreasing.
“Those are small wins that we are making for our students and for our advisors,” Maestas said.
Eight students who had been suspended during the Fall 2018 semester had appealed their suspensions and were put on a probationary period during the Spring of 2018, Maestas said. All eight students were able to raise their GPA’s to a 2.0 by the end of the semester, she added.
LCCC saw 796 students graduate during the 2015 school year, 769 graduate in 2016, 687 in 2017 and 744 in 2018. Schaffer said this is impressive considering enrollment was lower in 2017. he said more students completed their programs in 2018, which indicates that enrollment numbers are increasing.
President Jeff Fox of the College of Southern Idaho requested the presidents of the Wyoming colleges meet with the presidents of the Scenic West Athletic Conference, which includes community colleges in Idaho, Utah and Nevada, Schaffer said.
The meeting informed Schaffer that SWAC, which is Region 18 in the National Junior College Athletic Association, has been struggling with long road trips, fewer institutions that offer competitive play and travel requirements keeping the region’s student-athletes in the classroom less than they would prefer.
Schaffer said the participants came to an agreement to find ways to come together and solve Region 18’s problems. One of the solutions brought to the table was sharing or using neutral venues to offer more competitive play and fill out schedules, which could benefit LCCC, Schaffer said.
“Probably, certainly more beneficial for the Scenic West Athletic Conference than Region 9, but I know that if we were in the same situation and struggling with those schedules we’d be leaning on our other partners in other regions to do the very same thing,” Schaffer said. “Who knows, looking forward we’ll have some tournaments that will be in Wyoming that bring some great teams here and some opportunities for our students as well.”