The individuals running the college deserve a lot of credit. An initial amount of 1,380 students enrolled in the school’s first year in 1969. Since then, the college has grown to an enrollment size of more than 20,000 students. There are now more students attending JCCC than KU.
The school is now the largest taxing entity in the state. That means a lot of your money is in the hands of school officials. It’s doubly important to know how and why the money is being spent. The Board of Trustees approved this year over a million dollars to renovate the baseball stadium. The college spent about $700,000 for Galileo’s Pavilion. The new culinary building could cost up to $13 million for its construction.
If the college can spend that kind of money for new buildings and renovations, why is it now requiring its employees to empty their own trash and recycling bins? Is the housekeeping staff really that expensive for the college to maintain?
The Board of Trustees voted to approve a two percent salary increase for Dr. Calaway just last month. This is despite the fact that enrollment numbers have decreased this semester since fall of last year. Tuition has been increased at the school for the last five years. In the 2009-2010 school year, it cost $69 per credit hour for Johnson County residents. For the 2012-2013 school year, that price has jumped to $84 per credit hour.
The tuition rate is outpacing inflation during a time when the economy is trying to climb out of a recession. What do we have to show for it? We have Galileo’s Pavilion, a green building with limited classroom space. We have 200 less parking spaces, thanks to construction of the new culinary building.
Elected officials must carry out their duties above reproach. Although the Board of Trustees deserves credit for building up the college, its spending habits should not go unquestioned. Last year, the college spent nearly $10,000 at local liquor stores. Why?
It’s not enough that the college newspaper asks the question. As taxpayers and students that pay tuition, we should all ask why money is being spent the way it is. The disconnect between government and its citizens is one that people in power would like to maintain. The Kansas Open Records Act allows everyone to keep an eye on their elected officials, including the Board of Trustees.
Rather than use it just to uncover wrongdoing, open records help people stay informed. They help to explain the “what” and the “why.” Certainly, crooks have been elected into various offices before. A knowledgeable public will help prevent it from happening.