By Jessica LeDuc
Blade staff writer
Concealing a weapon on Cloud County Community College's campuses is still prohibited, but an emergency task force will continue to study implementing increased security measures to eventually allow weapons on campus.
Earlier this year, House Bill 2052 was passed in the Kansas Legislature to allow the carrying of concealed weapons in public buildings, unless the facilities provide adequate security measures. In May, the college board of trustees approved banning weapons from campus, and applying for a four-year exemption to the new state law. The board requested that the college's emergency task force study the issue and recommend appropriate action.
Tuesday night, Janet Eubanks, director of auxiliary services, presented the recommendations of the task force. She said the committee had been researching and discussing the issue for the past four months. She said the task force came to the conclusion that because of budget constraints, it is not feasible for the college to provide adequate security measures to enforce the no concealed carry policy. Because of that, she said, the recommendation before the board is to allow concealed carry when the college's four-year exemption expires.
Eubanks said the task force also recommends that, in addition to keeping the exemption in place, they be allowed to review and bring forward options for increasing the level of security on both campuses, as well as research options offered from insurance companies that will allow employees to carry concealed weapons.
It should be the goal of the college, the task force said, to identify liability insurance coverage that will allow appropriately licensed employees to conceal and carry and that adequately trained security personnel be hired prior to when the four-year exemption expires.
The college's current insurance carrier, EMC, informed the college earlier this year that it will not continue to cover the college should it allow employees to carry concealed weapons.
As the board was poised to approve the task force's recommendations, Tom Tuggle said he would rather not take action on it, but instead should continue to study it.
He said he had spoken with the Concordia Police Chief, and asked him if the city had any insurance issues since it had allowed concealed carry. According to Tuggle, the city has not seen higher insurance premiums because it allows concealed weapons.
President Danette Toone said the college is still with EMC, and she has explored other options for insurance carriers.
"We didn't want to change insurance carriers mid-year," Toone said. "We will look at rebidding effective July 1."
Bob Maxson, vice president for administrative services, said that EMC will not even bid for the college's insurance if employees are allowed to carry weapons.
Trustee Linda Richard suggested the task force continue researching the issue and bring back more information and recommendations for increased security in the spring so the board knows what it will need to bid for insurance.
Eubanks said the task force's main concern is increasing security on both the Concordia and Geary County campuses.
"The committee's concern is the level of security on campus," she said. "One person on campus at night isn't enough security if we're allowing concealed carry."
She said the committee would like to see armed security guards if the general public is being allowed to carry weapons.
"As Joy (Cunningham - Cloud's security officer) said, the only thing she's going to do if there's an active shooter on campus is stop a bullet because she's not armed," Eubanks said.
No vote was taken on the issue, but the board's consensus is to ask the task force to continue studying concealed carry and additional security measures, and address the issue in April.
In other business, the board approved the loan bid for banking services that was submitted by Central National Bank. Central will replace Citizens National Bank, the college's bank for the past six years.
"CNB has been wonderful to the college the last six and a half years," Maxson said. "And they should be thanked for that service."
Tuggle asked that Toone send CNB a letter, on behalf of the board, thanking the bank for its service.
Trustee Larry Henry, an employee at CNB, abstained from voting on the bid.
In personnel issues, the board approved contract renewals for Molly Skocny, head volleyball coach, and Derek Talcott, head soccer coach.
During his facilities update, Maxson said the college will spend approximately $20,000 to prepare an area at the southwest corner of the college property for the new substation technician program.
Westar Energy is donating a substation to the college to train students in the new substation technician program. Maxson said Westar is making an approximately $250,000 investment in the program, and wind energy students will help build a fence to enclose the substation and pour a concrete foundation. Maxson said there will also be a new gravel road off 140th Road to access the substation, as well as the turbines and horse barns.
Maxson also reported that he is looking at replacing the college roof in the spring, and the board should see bid specifications in December or January.
Joel Figgs, vice president for enrollment management and student services, reported that early enrollment for the spring semester shows the college being down 10 percent in credit hours and 6.81 percent in head count. He said those numbers are preliminary, and could change as enrollment continues.