BCC option attracting area high school students

Amy Kjellin, director of the Flint Hills Butler Community College sites, which includes Marion, said the Hill Building next to Marion High School is working well in its second year at that location.Butler Community College of Marion is now in its second year in the Hill Building on the Marion High School campus.

Amy Kjellin, director of the Flint Hills BCC sites, which includes Marion, said the new location is working well.

“Our primary population is the high school, so it makes sense to be here,” she said.

Enrollment trends over the past five years substantiate this with an average 72 percent of the total hours generated in Marion are from the high school.

The classroom in the Hill Building is used three hours a day, she said, with another large classroom and video conferencing so BCC can connect with Herington and Centre.

Kjellin the draw of BCC is high school among seniors in Marion County. At Marion High School, she said 58 percent took at least one class with Peabody and Hillsboro at 27 percent.

Another success is with the allied health five-year totals in Council Grove and Marion, she said.

Certified nursing assistants trained totaled 197 and certified medical assistants numbered 82 with updated CMAs at 48.

Something new

BCC implemented a general education waiver for the 2016-17 school year, which saved families thousands in tuition.

Kjellin said prior to the waiver, 25 Marion High School seniors enrolled in BCC averaged more than 15 hours. The total number of MHS graduates in 2016 was 41.

Graduating class sizes included Centre High School with 14, Hillsboro with 31 and Peabody with 30.

At MHS, 19 students earning more than 12 hours and 14 students earned over 18 hours, she said.

Calculating the total number of credit hours by $24 per credit hour, families would have paid $9,300 year.

The only cost high school students pay with the waiver is fees of about $360 for 15 credit hours, plus books.

“I believe the class of 2017 will exceed that number,” Kjellin said.

The waiver is not something the state is doing, it’s something BCC is doing, which is leveling the costs, she said.

“Our enrollment has grown, but I can’t guarantee Butler will always have a complete waiver for this list of courses,” she said.

Another scholarship program funded 17 high school students to purchase college textbooks, Kjellin said.

“This scholarship is donated annually by a former Marion County resident who cares about high school students and wants to help those that might struggle to afford books or other costs,” she said. “Wouldn’t it be nice if more people would set up funds to help students?”

Butler Community College officials were in Marion recently for a luncheon and an opportunity to meet with area school administrators. Seated are: (from left) Lori Winningham, vice-president of academics at BCC; Amy Kjellin, site director for BCC of the Flint Hills; Grant Thierolf, U.S. History instructor; and Gary Stuchlik, college algebra instructor. Others attending the luncheon were Kimberly Krull, BCC president; Meg McGranaghan, associate vice-president of academics; Lee Leiker, USD 408 superintendent; Tod Gordon, MHS principal; Dorothy Rucker, ad­junct; Gregg Walker, adjunct; and Topher Rome, English composition instructor.The future

Kjellin said she sees most of BCC’s role in Marion mov­ing forward as transitional.

“Some changes need to happen and I’m not sure what it will mean, but nothing will be done to decrease the need to support the great student population or staff,” she said.

What needs to be done is to meet the needs of non-high school students in the Marion area, Kjellin added.

“We need to do this in the most efficient way for the college and community because it doesn’t make sense to offer seven to 10 night classes only to cancel them all for lack of students,” Kjellin said.

Up until three years ago, Butler would offer core English and math courses and have rotating schedules of at least one class to fulfill the humanities requirement, class behavioral sciences, social science and fine arts.

The idea was that wherever a student was in their associate’s degree path, there would always be something they could take to fill it.

“Always a challenge is finding qualified teachers,” she said. “Up until a couple of years ago, we had a teacher willing to teach political science and we could offer a federal government class.”

The small classes would be connected with Council Grove and the teacher could go back and forth, she said.

“We would have four to five classes every semester, but for the past three semesters, I have filled an English and algebra class and cancelled everything except for two or three classes.”

Kjellin said she didn’t believe it had anything to do with the instructors or the variety of class offerings.

The decline in night class enrollments at Marion has been significant in the past 10 years, Kjellin said, but it’s actually increased by 22 percent in the past five years at Council Grove.

Some of the factors seem to be differences in demographics and economies in the counties.

“We did build it so they would come, but they aren’t coming,” she said.

A need, but no money

Another factor involves non-traditional students who are just wanting to learn.

“Unfortunately, part of the downsizing and budget cuts from the state level to all colleges and community colleges cut into the non-credit classes,” she said.

These classes don’t generate money and if there isn’t adequate funding support from the state, Kjellin said BCC can’t offer painting classes or other non-credit studies.

“There is a need, but part of why I believe Marion’s recreation department offers painting or exercise classes is to fill that gap,” she said. “Butler used to be able to do things like that, and I loved doing those, but there are no resources to support it anymore.”

Kjellin said she hopes other avenues in the community can be found because she sees it as a “huge need.”

As a whole, not many people in Marion County really need college algebra or public speaking, she said.

“That’s the challenge as we look at ways to work with high school districts to meet the needs of students, even if class sizes are small,” Kjellin added. “It’s going to take creativity and communication with superintendents, principals and the powers that be at Butler.”

Another question Kjellin posed to adults and students is what Butler can do to improve what it is doing for students and how everyone work can together to do that.

The goal of Butler is to strengthen the high schools and communities in providing individuals ready to work in the health-care area, and then assisting students with access to online classes or campus classes, Kjellin said.

If face-to-face classes are needed, Butler can do that with five or more people enrolled.

Some people are interested in computer training that could be offered if there’s a teacher, but BCC has to have a threshold of at least six or more students.

The Marion site of BCC serves the Centre, Pea­body, Hillsboro and Marion school districts.

“That’s really the big picture of where BCC is going in Marion County,” she said.

For more information about BCC or classes offered, call Kjellin at 620-382-2183 or 316-323-6039.

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