Trustees approve staffing increase.

The Pratt Community College nursing program has completed their accreditation requirements. The National League of Nursing Accrediting Commission has issued PCC an eight-year accreditation, the highest level of accreditation NLNAC offers, said PCC President William Wojciechowski.

The accreditation announcement was made during the regular monthly PCC Trustees meeting Monday night in the student conference center.

For the most part the accreditation went very well. Two significant deficiencies were pointed out the college but both are easily corrected.

The college does learning outcomes assessment at the end of each year as the nursing students progress through program. The NLNAC wants the college to do assessments at the end of each semester that the college will do.

The other issue was faculty workload. The assessment team found that PCC had a shortage of full time instructors and the student to instructor ratio was too high, Wojciechowski said.

The faculty is overworked and they don't have enough time to devote to insure student success. The Kansas State Board of Nursing also found those same two items.

The college has to file a report on how they plan to fix those two issues. They have two years to correct the issues.

The college already had a quality improvement plan in place to show the team that covered those issues. The NLNAC team commended the college for already having the plan, which was written last summer, in place.

As a result of the NLNAC and State Nursing Board finding, the administration asked the Trustees to approve the addition of two full time nursing staff. The Trustees approved hiring one full time instructor and one part time administrative person that would also be a part time faculty. This is an unbudgeted item so the trustees had to approve the action.

The workload is so big for the nursing staff now that most of the nursing faculty has completed a full year faculty load in just half a year.

Along with the addition of two full-time staff now, the college will have to hire a third nursing position for the 2013-2014 school year. The Trustees also approved this action because they want a successful nursing program that focuses on quality, Wojciechowski said.

Since the additional faculty is unbudgeted items, it would create a financial hardship for the college to hire that faculty. To make it work, the college worked out an agreement with Wichita Technical College where PCC has nursing program.

In the agreement, WTC agrees to pay the full nursing dean's salary instead of just 40 percent. The college will also transfer 20 nursing students to Wichita to reduce the size of the workload at PCC. The students would still be on PCC campus but WTC instructors would teach their courses. Also, WTC will allow PCC teach one third of the credit hours for those students and PCC will get state aid for those credit hours.

"That's really quite a concession on their part," Wojciechowski said.

Besides approving new faculty, the Trustees also approved hiring Paskill Stapleton and Lord to conduct an admissions marketing audit and consultation to help the college develop a marketing and recruiting plan.

Two years ago enrollment increased just two percent. One year ago enrollment was flat and this year enrollment was down 2.8 percent.

Wojciechowski said he told the Trustees he wasn't going to wait around for a declining trend to develop and wanted to hire this firm as a proactive move to improve the college admissions and marketing programs.

"I wasn't going to wait around to see our enrollment decline," Wojciechowski said.

The last time the college hired an enrollment assessment firm, enrollments improved the college wants that to happen again.

It will cost the college $75,600 over an 18 month period to hire the firm. They will visit campus in late November.

The trustees took another important step in getting enrollment numbers up. In-state tuition and fees will not increase for the 2013-2014 school year. Out of state will increase 3.3 percent and international students will pay an additional 2.7 percent.

Meal plans will increase 2 percent across the board for all residence halls.

The no in-state increase was done because PCC is already in the top tier of community colleges for tuition and fees with only two colleges with higher tuition, Wojciechowski said. The college wants to remain competitive while remembering what the student can bear financially, so it left in-state tuition and fees alone.