Kilgore College trustees held a quick board meeting Monday evening by teleconference, welcoming new board members and entering into a process to explore the future of a pedestrian bridge, which was damaged and ultimately removed from its perch over U.S. Highway 259 just over a year ago.
Board president Joe Carrington opened the meeting by noting the suspension of Texas’ Open Meeting Laws due to the novel coronavirus pandemic, which allowed a quorum of members to meet using the Zoom teleconference app.
Carrington asked Nancy Law, assistant to the college president, to swear in new board member Josh Edmondson. After the swearing-in, Carrington noted Edmondson had “made history” by being the first board trustee ever sworn in during a virtual meeting.
Carrington added Edmondson would have to complete additional training through the Texas Higher Education Board before being allowed to vote but should be ready to participate full by the next regular meeting.
No public comments were made and the board moved on to unanimously pass the evening’s consent agenda, which included the termination of employment of a Health Sciences Support Specialist and the recommendation for employment of a speech instructor and history instructor, effective Sept. 1.
Trustees chose to forego meeting in executive session and moved on to committee reports and action items.
Investment, Finance and Audit committee chair and former board president Larry Woodfin presented a “snapshot of the 2020 financials through the end of April.”
The report included steep revenue losses for the college in the wake of the COVID-19 virus.
“Due to the virus, at the end of April, KC’s auxiliary services revenues were running at a deficit...These figures for auxiliary services are reflective of the 450 room and board refunds for Spring II (semester), as well as other revenues lost in conjunction with the disruption of services of the virus.”
He noted other revenues had been lost as well, saying college investment accounts had missed out on about $478,000 of earnings due to a steep decline in the stock market.
Woodfin also asked the board to consider to revise budgets for the 2020-2021 school year to ensure food services will be available to students choosing to live on campus, to include a revision of the meal plan pricing structures based on housing occupancy.
Policy and Personnel Committee Chairman Lon Ford described a list of new COVID-19 protocols taken in recommendation from Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American College Health Association.
These included and Infectious disease facility protocol, protocol for suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 among KC employees, students and visitors, and protocol for the workplace during the pandemic. All protocols are intended to prevent the transmission of the virus on the campus.
Jon Rowe, chair of the Property & Facilities Committee discussed entering into contract negotiations for grounds maintenance, custodial service and groundskeeping with Aramark Corporation, which has responded to the college’s Request for Proposal on these services.
Next, Rowe introduced a proposal granting the college president the authority to enter into contract negotiations with Halff, a vendor who responded to request for a quote on pedestrian bridge engineering services. The longstanding KC bridge, a local landmark, was torn down last year after a tractor-trailer collided with it, rendering it unsafe. Since that time, KC has installed and electronic crosswalk to allow students to cross U.S. 259, also known as Henderson Boulevard.
Eight proposals were received in total and a seven-member review team composed of board members, admins and external stakeholders evaluated the proposals before choosing Halff, which is based in Tyler, Rowe said.
Both proposals were approved unanimously.
Finally, the board announced its decision to welcome Travis Martin, a longtime supporter of Kilgore students, to the board.
Martin decided to apply for a vacancy on the board which opened in April, though he had considered it for years.
“Welcome to the board,” Carrington said after the unanimous approval was given.