Kilgore College is poised for a year of growth and development with a focus on creating opportunities for students and improving the appearance and functionality of its campuses.
The 2018-2019 school year is the third year of the college’s Strategic Plan, a three-year “roadmap” of goals and priorities implemented in 2016 shortly after Dr. Brenda Kays was voted KC president.
“Student success is always at the top of our list because it is the overarching outcome of the KC Strategic Plan. Sept. 1, 2018 marked the beginning of the third year of our Strategic Plan—our roadmap at the college,” Kays wrote in an email.
Several items included in the plan have already been accomplished, such as getting college employees up to speed with the new Jenzabar EX database software last year. Funds in the upcoming year’s budget have been earmarked to cover more planned improvements.
“The budget is tied very closely to the Priorities, Goals and Outcomes of the Strategic Plan,” Kays said. She described the four priorities of the plan, which include the improvement of student learning and success, enhancing college resources to support student success, providing students with safe, well-maintained and accessible campus environments and providing instructional programming which helps students develop skills and earn credentials to make them competitive in the workforce and enable them to earn a living wage.
“Each of these priorities has goals and outcomes closely associated with it to illustrate specifically ‘how’ this priority will be accomplished,” Kays said.
For example, faculty familiarity with Jenzabar was a goal associated with Priority II, enhancing college resources to support student learning. The college is also making progress on other strategic goals.
Priority III, providing students with safe and well-maintained environments, contains outcomes aimed at adding lighting to low-lit areas of campus, increasing student satisfaction with residence halls and increasing satisfaction with campus appearance.
To address these goals, KC is moving forward with a project led by the McKinstry corporation to renovate nearly the entire campus with new lighting, HVAC systems and energy-efficient windows and roofs. The aim of the project, as stated by Dr. Kays, is to create a comfortable environment on campus while reducing utility expenses, freeing up dollars to be reallocated to deferred maintenance issues.
Additionally, KC kicked off the fall semester with a spate of campus beautification projects. These included the removal of diseased trees, planting new flowers, installing an electronic campus sign and relocating and restoring some vintage oilfield equipment displayed on campus.
Kays said the beautification project was just another component of a plan to enhance KC’s service to students, preparing them for the next step in their lives.
“It is a shared vision reflecting the college’s Strategic Plan which echoes the voices of our trustees, students, faculty/staff and the communities we serve. We aspire to have learning, working and living environments at Kilgore College that reflect the cutting-edge instruction and radical hospitality that our faculty/staff employ daily to help students achieve their individualized goals and dreams,” Kays said.
The renovations come alongside enhancements to campus internet infrastructure at Kilgore and Longview campuses.
“We are very grateful to donors, friends, the KC Foundation and the visionary leadership of our KC Board of Trustees who are helping the college’s exterior match its interior. We strive to project a 21st Century image as that is the workforce that our students will eventually be entering. The scheduled improvements to our mechanical and technological infrastructure and systems will solve many deferred maintenance issues and serve the college and its students well into the future,” Kays said.
The 2018-2019 KC budget also aimed to retain and attract staff and faculty with pay increases throughout the college system.
“Kilgore College had not given an across the board salary increase to its employees for the last three years. The Kilgore College Board of Trustees made this a priority in the budget process and set aside new revenues for the purpose of funding a 3 percent raise for full-time employees,” said Fred Gore, vice president of administrative services and chief financial officer.
The budget for the 2019 fiscal year increased over the 2018 budget, yet the college’s tax rate remained unchanged. At a board meeting in July, Kays and Gore attributed the pay increases and funding for campus projects to a tuition increase last February and extra tax revenue from increased property values.
Kays said these extra revenues could be a boon to the 2019 fiscal year budget.
“Logically, it should have a positive impact. However, we will have to monitor the process to clearly ascertain the effect,” Kays said.