The Cowley College Board of Trustees attended a training session, prior to their July 10 meeting, at which Kansas sunshine laws were covered.

This training was provided by Donna Whiteman, assistant executive director of legal services and attorney for the Kansas Association of School Boards (KASB).

The laws, the Kansas Open Records Act (KORA) and Kansas Open Meetings Act (KOMA), provide guidelines not only for how open meetings are to be conducted, but what qualifies as an open meeting, the general rules for board members, and how open records and requests for these records should be handled.

Public vs. private

One of the first things Whiteman said to the trustees was that as soon as they were elected to the board, they became “a public person,” meaning that they put themselves in a position to be accountable to a completely different set of rules and statutes than private persons.

She also stated that the trustees, who create the policies of the college, had to comply with the wording of those policies.

For instance, if a policy says the board “shall” do something, action is mandatory, but if the policy states they “may,” the action is optional.

“Your policy is law,” Whiteman explained. “It is fair to say, ‘What does our policy (say)?’”

Regarding open records, she said that employees and trustees of a government agency should have “no expectation of privacy” when it comes to records maintained on their computers, telephones, texts or emails.

KASB services

Whiteman has been with KASB for more than 23 years and she works with five other attorneys.

This group only provides training for local boards of education and college boards of trustees.

The services KASB offers, according to Whitemen, are intended to be preventative.

Entities that belong to KASB are able to call the organiation with legal questions.

Last year, the group answered more than 17,000 such calls, she said.

During the regular meeting, the trustees:

  • heard an update from Cowley College President Dennis Rittle, who informed the Board that 72 percent of Cowley College employees live in Cowley County and the college pays out $10 million every year in employee compensation. In the last two years, he said, the college has spent $13.7 million in the state of Kansas and more than $7 million in Cowley County.
  • heard a legislative update from Rittle, who filled in for Jessica Lucas, government affairs liaison. There will be no change to the budget passed earlier this year and signed by the governor. Lucas will provide the board with an overview of where things stand after the August primary.
  • heard a message from Linda Fund, executive director of the Kansas Association of Community College Trustees.
  • resolved that the 2018-19 Proposed State Appropriation Budget for Cowley College is approved for posting with a scheduled hearing for the public on Aug. 13 at the Cowley College Allied Health Center in Winfield.
  • learned from Gloria Walker, vice president of finance and administration, that the August board meeting will include a detailed budget for all funds by department.
  • received a report from Harold Arnett, vice president of academic affairs, that the first two Military Science courses have been approved by Kansas Board of Regents staff.
  • learned that Devin Graves and Janice Stover recently participated in a week of on-site training in preparation for a major update to the Student Information System.
  • heard from Tina Grillot, who met June 22 with Kansas Workforce Registered Apprenticeship Coordinator Aaron Plume, Kansas Workforce Business Services Representative Jennifer Heersche and Tech Aerospace Human Resources to begin the process of developing a Tech/Cowley Registered Apprenticeship program. More information will follow as the apprenticeship program develops.
  • was informed by Kori Gregg, vice president of institutional advancement, that the Cowley College Foundation is beginning its conversion to the newest version of the Blackbaud Raisers Edge donor database. Gregg also informed the board that Cowley College will serve as the premier sponsor of the Kansas Wheat Festival on July 11-15 in Wellington for the second consecutive year.
  • heard a Sumner County campus equipment and network update from Paul Erdmann, vice president of information technology. The main connection to the Sumner campus network was configured and made active, and all wiring closet equipment has been installed. Once the furniture has been delivered and set up, computer and audiovisual equipment will be installed in the offices and classrooms.
  • received an enrollment update from Kristi Shaw, executive director of enrollment management. She said enrollment is up 183 students from this time a year ago, while full-time equivalency is up by 97.
  • heard from Debbie Phelps, executive director of institutional effectiveness, that her office, in collaboration with the president’s office, has submitted several date correction request forms for information submitted during the previous academic year.
  • received a housing update from Jason O’Toole, executive director of student affairs. He also gave updates on the TRIO, IMPACT and Upward Bound programs.
  • heard from Jan Grace, Sumner campus operations officer, who has been working with all departments to prepare for the fall 2018 opening of the Sumner campus.
  • learned from Deborah Layton, faculty liaison, that Director of Vocal Music Lindsay Allen, along with many other community members, is performing in the Burford’s Toast to Broadway performance benefit concert for the Ark Valley Players on July 14. Tickets are available at
  • learned that math instructor Brooke Istas currently is in London speaking on the Power in Numbers Initiative.
  • received a Tiger Booster Club (TBC) update from Shane Larson, athletic director. TBC will be host to the third annual Tri-County Tiger Classic on July 28 at the Wellington Golf Course. The annual Tiger Blitz Drive is set for Aug. 8.
  • accepted letters of resignation from Suzie Bacon as director of accounting, effective July 11, and Laura Thomas as administrative assistant to the vice president of academic affairs, effective July 27.
  • approved the employment of Matthew Nies as international student services coordinator, effective Aug. 1.

Cowley College Director of Institutional Communications and Public Relations Rama Peroo contributed to this story.