EWC trustees raise wages for cooks, custodians

TORRINGTON – The Eastern Wyoming College board of trustees met Tuesday Jan. 12 for its monthly meeting, where trustees voted to raise wages for cooks and custodians for the first time in 11 years.

The work session began at 4 p.m. in the Dolores Kaufman Boardroom on EWC campus. Present were trustees Robert Baumgartner who serves as chairman of the board, Tom John McCreery, Kurt Sittner and Judith Bartmann, who attended the meeting via phone call. EWC president Lesley Travers was also present at the meeting.

Director of College Relations and Interim Vice President of Student Services Tami Afdahl presented her report, informing the board of COVID protocols for the school as the semester begins next week. Masks will not be required on campus for those who are fully vaccinated except in places where social distancing is not an option, such as the various labs across campus. This policy will be updated as needed.

Financial aid is set to go out to students, a vast improvement from the fall semester when a ransomware attack prevented access to the funds.

“We are starting out the semester in a much better place than we ended,” Afdahl told the board.

Vice President of Academic Services Roger Humphrey presented the annual enrollment report from the Wyoming Community College Commission. College enrollment across the state and country has steadily declined in recent years. Humphrey cited fewer high school students as being the primary reason why.

With EWC general legal counsel attorney David Evans retiring, the school put out a request for proposals from firms interested in the position. O’Kelley Pearson from Hickey and Evans was accepted as the new
legal counsel.

The board also discussed a new policy that has been in the works for some time. Board Policy 3.9 concerning faculty resignations sets forth the consequences for faculty members leaving their positions early. As of now, faculty members who leave before their contract is up will not be eligible for rehire by the school. Many board members expressed their desire for “more teeth” to be added to the policy, including the possibility of deducting pay from final paychecks.

The work session adjourned at 4:58 p.m. and the regular meeting began at 5:45 p.m.

Director of Human Resources Holly Lara introduced Suzy Delger as the new Director of Nursing.

Travers provided the president’s update for the board. Along with upcoming nationwide training for college executives, the Torrington Rotary Club is putting together a map for a proposed footpath around the city and seeks the college’s advice on where it would best suit its students’ and faculty’s needs. While the actual construction and completion is still a few years out, the board did task Travers with forming a committee to prepare a plan for the footpath and other possibilities of beautification. Trustee McCreery volunteered to serve on that committee as the board’s representative.

Travers also reported she has a plan in place should the nationwide vaccine mandate remain in place, but is waiting on the final answer from the Supreme Court. She said whether the mandate will go into effect at the college remains “really uncertain at this time.”

Vice President of Administrative Services Kwin Wilkes presented the December 2021 fiscal report, including an update on CARES money and the plan for distributing it to students and areas of the school.

The board voted to reappoint Wilkes, Humphrey and Vice President for the Douglas Campus Margaret Farley in their respective positions. After a brief executive session at the end of the meeting to discuss extending the offer of reappointment to Afdahl with a new president coming in June, the board voted to extend the offer. The board also accepted the appointment of Gary Scott to Precision Agriculture instructor.

Wilkes and Lara presented the proposed updated salary schedule for cooks and custodians. Upon the board’s acceptance, the starting wage for a custodian with little to no prior experience rose from $10.42 an hour to $12.69 an hour, the first raise in 11 years. The board also voted to raise the proposed cap for employees with three or more years of experience.

The board voted to reappoint Jim Willox as an ex officio member of the board. Willox is the chairman of the Converse County board of commissioners.

Director of Institutional Development John Hansen presented his report. The annual fundraiser Sagebrush and Roses will take place Jan. 29 and Hansen is overseeing the preparations. For information, visit the Sagebrush and Roses homepage at www.ewcsagebrushandroses.com.

Physical Plant Director Keith Jarvis gave the construction and major maintenance update. A new generator for the Eastern Hall is set to arrive next week and Jarvis will oversee the installation shortly thereafter. Jarvis hopes the wage raises will help him fill his open two full-time and three part-time positions.

Humphrey presented his report, saying all classes were ready to start Jan. 18.

After a brief executive session, the meeting adjourned at 8:15 p.m.


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