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Barrett joins PCC board; nursing program faces setback

Tribune staff
Donna Meier Pfeifer, Pratt Community College Clerk of the Board of Trustees, reads the oath as new trustee Ed Barrett is sworn in at the Jan. 13 board meeting.

Ed Barrett was sworn in as a new member of the Pratt Community College Board of Trustees at the trustees January 13 meeting by Donna Meier Pfeifer, Pratt Community College Clerk of the Board. Elected in November, along with Kimberly DeClue, Michelle Hamm and Stan Reimer, Barrett was the only member joining the board at this time, though he has previously served 14 years on the PCC trustees board, with terms as Vice-Chairman and Chairman.

"My goal is to hold the college and employees to the highest standards of professionalism," Barrett said in a November 5, 2019 interview with The Pratt Tribune.

Board members heard from PCC President Michael Calvert that efforts to get the PCC Advanced Degree in Nursing program re-certified by the Kansas State Board of Nursing took a setback when the 2019 pass rate fell just short of the national threshold of 75 percent for first time takers of the NCLEX exams that are required for the ADN degree.

A total of 24 PCC students took the exam and 17 passed it on the first attempt. Only one more student needed to pass the exam to meet the 75 percent level, Calvert said.

The college lost its ADN accreditation several years ago when the first time pass rate fell below the 75 percent level. Since then, the college has been striving to get the pass rates above the necessary 75 percent.

In the previous year, the college meet and exceed 75 percent but the KSBN requires three consecutive years of over 75 percent passing the test on the first try to be considered for certification. This means the college will have to start the three-year cycle over. The college is still dedicated to getting national certification for the program, Calvert said.

Diane Mitzner, director of nursing, said the KSBN will visit the campus in October. That visit will be intense and there is a lot of work to be done before the visit but Mitzner has been through this before. She knows it will require a lot of hard work to be ready for the visit but her first goal is to lose the program conditional approval and get full approval as the next step to total accreditation for the ADN program.

"I'm ready to move forward with the program," Mitzner said.

The college Practical Nursing program continues to perform very well with 90 percent of those students passing the test on the first try. The PN program has the maximum five year approval from the state board.

The college is also facing total reaccreditation and Dr. Gene George of HLC Consultants, is helping the college prepare for the Higher Learning Commission visit to campus on March 9 and 10 evaluate the college for reaccreditation. Calvert said he expects the college will be reaffirmed and that the HLC team will provide feedback to the college for areas they want to see improved. The college will have to submit a report on their efforts to comply with those improvements.

The college had a mock HLC visit in November and it was a big help in getting everyone prepared for the real HLC visit in March.

"We got good feed back. That team helped our people get comfortable with HLC expectations," Calvert said.

Feedback on the future of a Pratt Community College office, classroom space and electronic sign in Wichita was mixed however, as that arm of extended education has changed.

The college has had an e-Learning center in west Wichita on Kellogg for 15 years. There was an office, classroom space plus an electronic billboard promoting the college nursing program and electric power technology courses that were taught there.

The nursing courses have moved to the Wichita Technology and the EPT program has moved to the Wichita State University Grove facility, said Calvert.

With the declining need for the facility, discussions are underway on what to do the building and the electronic sign.

"We're looking at options for the signage," Calvert said. "We're studying how best to address those marketing needs.

Among the options for the sign is to continue using it as a marketing tool in Wichita. About 10 percent of PCC students come from Sedgwick County. Kent Adams, vice president of finance and operations, said the landlord was willing to continue leasing the sign whether or not the college continued to lease the building that is 1,550 square feet and costs $2,013 per month.

While the classroom facilities are no longer needed, the building does house the computer backup system for the college so that issue will have to be addressed as well. The college can leave the backup there for a time until they decide what to do with it.

Trustee Michele Hamm said the college should consider other options than to continue paying for a building they aren't using.

"Our money could be spent better," Hamm said.

Trustee Kim DeClue said it doesn't make sense to have a sign for a building the college is no longer using.

More research will be done on the matter and presented to the board at a future trustee meeting.

In an effort to save more money, Adams requested the trustees approve offering Certificates of Participation to underwriters. Adams said the college has done this in the past and was pleased with the results. The college would realize a $94,000 savings over the life of the certificates that would help reduce the college debt service. The trustees approved the request.