Nevada

Dalpe: Restoring budget cuts will help Western Nevada College in the biennium

 

Recovering dollars lost from the 12% budget cuts made for fiscal 2022 and 2023 is one of Western Nevada College interim president Kyle Dalpe’s top concerns as he thinks about what’s needed most in this year’s legislative session.

Recovery will represent an investment in the positions and people that help make WNC the community college it constantly reminds voters of by offering courses and opportunities.

Dalpe, who is approaching his jubilee as the institution’s interim president, had a clear idea of ​​how to help his staff and students as the changes helped reshape the college’s offerings over the course of several years. He is also careful not to undermine the effects of the pandemic since 2020, but says the WNC came out of it better than it entered it.

“The legislative agenda for me is short and dry,” Dalpe said. “The good news is that the state has more money than ever. The bad news is that every agency knows about this and places their requests in excess of this amount.”

Western Nevada College Interim President Kyle Dalp

Dalpe says the college budget remains in the spotlight as always when the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE) made cuts across the board as universities and colleges grew. According to Dalpe, the $1.8 million reduction in WNC was due to staff positions and $500,000 in operations, and now the challenge, with $1.3 million recovered through American Rescue Plan Act spending, will be to to fill those jobs again.

Operations in themselves bring various difficulties. WNC has been able to use its funds since the fall of 2019 to expand remote access for students looking to take online courses using digital technology, Dalpe said, but it ended up exceeding expectations for the technology’s initial use.

“We would never use it during a pandemic,” he said. “We thought more about blizzards, transportation and disabled people.”

But he also noted that some of the equipment that was purchased to improve or replace television monitors or LCD projectors in classrooms to reduce the noise generated by modern machines almost 18 months ago is only now being installed in time for the spring semester, which began on Monday. .

“We’re making classes more user-friendly,” he said. “Our Cedar building on the south side of campus has not been renovated since it was built in 1997. Now we put TVs and refresh the walls (paint). … We’ll find out now as soon as you get things, we don’t have much bandwidth here. We have to make a contract to set it up, and labor shortages are affecting (work).”

As the Legislature approaches, NSHE will seek $12 million in funding for each year of the biennium to fund a workforce investment and economic development program for each of the four community colleges and Nevada State College, Dalpe said. WNC’s portion will be equal to $837,000 of that amount, he said, to help “patch some of the holes” the organization is losing from other sources of funding.

Finally, he hopes the session will be an opportunity to help garner support to increase funding for the college’s deferred capital renovation appropriations.

“The system receives $15 million annually, which is legally earmarked for revenue from slot machines and games,” he said. “This is a drop in the ocean. What the whole system receives is less than what we could finance right here. At WNC, we have $17 million to $18 million in deferred maintenance. … Our usual allocation is $400,000. We expect to get $1.5 million, which is a lot.”

Dalpe said it’s important to maintain the college’s current staffing and programs, and continue to raise awareness that this is a community college, even though legally “community” is no longer in the name.

“We are a community college,” he said. “I don’t want the public or service industries to think that we are some college that exists and doesn’t offer what a community college offers, one of whose five missions is to train the workforce. People said, “I didn’t know you were into car training.” This is what we are meant for. But we are a community college.

Spring student enrollment is around 3,800 and Dalpe would like to increase this number to 4,000 as a peak by 2025. According to him, this is just an increase of 200 people, but it is difficult. Most jobs now require more than a high school but less than a bachelor’s or master’s degree, he said, and WNC is looking to provide technical training in the hope that students will return to look beyond.

It also has 150 employees, but the vacancy rate is approaching 15% with a large group of part-time instructors, making filling such positions an important priority in the midst of the “Great Retirement” or, more prominently, the “Great Retirement”. Great pension.” For some employees who are looking to adjust to what has become roughly 32% online courses, it can be difficult to balance face-to-face and learning via Zoom. But Dalpe was also quick to notice that some of the exits were not just about that.

“We didn’t lose a lot of instructors, but we had people who retired after 30 years of service or said, ‘I should retire,’” Dalpe said. “Some say, ‘I don’t know if I can reinvent myself.’ We had a few vacancies because the cost of living here is low, even in Fallon. It goes back to how we got through the pandemic.”

Dalpe, who has been acting president of the college since last March, said the year has been challenging but enjoyable. The NSHE Code requires that if there is a vacancy in the office of president, the appointed interim must serve for at least one year before the board can hire him full-time, or up to three years before making a decision or starting a new search for another candidate. .

Overall, as Dalpe personally said, he enjoyed his year at the WNC and watched it progress.

“It’s the most grueling job I’ve ever had, but it’s also the most fun job because it’s so rewarding,” he said. “It’s more than just the beginning when they walk across the stage. It helps to find resources for a student who didn’t think he would ever be able to go to school.

“It’s just listening to the energy of this community. We serve many small communities. I will never become an expert in any of these communities because I am not one of them … but if we can support what they need, then we are doing our job.

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