By Pat Caldwell
VALE — Roger Findley says his victory Tuesday in the race for the Treasure Valley Community College board was a mandate from voters to spark change.
“They voted on the issues and they liked what I was saying about the issues,” said Findley. “I think this sends a very clear message that voters are not happy with what is going on.”
Findley, a retired TVCC teacher, defeated Jed Myers, for the four-year slot. Findley collected 2,200 votes while Myers finished with 1,565 votes. Myers, an incumbent who decided to challenge Findley, works for the Bank of Eastern Oregon in Ontario.
Myers currently sits on the board in the No. 1 position. His term ends June 30. Findley fills the No. 6 position on the board now but the term on that slot was also to expire June 30.
A slight difference in perception marked the contest between Findley and Myers. Both agreed the college faced challenges but they differed on how serious the problems are.
“I put the message out there that there are a lot of good things that are happening at the college. Eighty to eighty-five percent of the things that happen at the college are positive and good. That sad part, as a general community, is we only hear about the small reminder that is off the tracks,” Myers said.
Both men generally agreed on the key issues for the college — the budget, falling student enrollment and facility staffing – but they differed regarding on emphasis. State funding for community colleges is a major factor, said Myers, for the future of the college.
“State funding for higher education is 47th in the nation based on FTE and therein lies the main issues as far as funding at the college. The second main issue is adjusting personnel to meet the level of students attending,” Myers said.
Myers said that the college should be more robust in its effort to balance the number of faculty with the number of students.
“When the number of students decreases, logically the number of instructional personnel should decrease as well and it has not,” said Myers.
Myers said he wasn’t surprised by how close the race was – just over 600 votes separated the two candidates.
“I certainly didn’t expect a landslide one way or another,” said Myers.
Findley said his chief goal for the future is clear.
“The enrollment has to got to be No. 1 and we have to stop the enrolment free fall. If we fix enrollment, the budget will kind of line back up,” he said.
Findley also pointed to TVCC’s satellite campus in Caldwell as another potential problem area.
“We have to deal with Caldwell. It is still losing operating money, let alone the overhead, and the enrollment continues to fall there,” said Findley.
Findley said the three-story Caldwell Center is too big for the number of students that use it.
“We are renting a three-story building and I think we can consolidate and reduce the rent. We can rent out the remaining space to a restaurant or whatever,” he said.
Some of the Caldwell classes, he said, could be taught through distance learning from TVCC.
Another issue Findley said he is concerned about is the upcoming accreditation process. The Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities accredits the college. During the accreditation process the college is assessed on such items as its mission and indicators of achievement.
The next accreditation is slated for 2018 but the Ontario institution must submit a self-evaluation a year from now.
“To show success we have to achieve a 70 percent success rate on those indicators. The last report we got, we only received a 70 percent mark on one of them. We don’t have much time to get those indicators up,” he said.
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