SEARK reports enrollment drop


Southeast Arkansas College president Steve Hilterbran told the regular meeting of the SEARK Board of Trustees on Wednesday that the school has recorded a drop in enrollment for the spring semester of 314 students compared with the same period last year.

“We were down 400 students in the fall semester from a year ago and we thought we would be down that many this semester,” Hilterbran said. “So the numbers aren’t quite as bad as we feared they would be. For the spring semester we have a total of 2,799 student credit hours registered and when this number is divided by 15 you get the total of full-time equivalent credit hours, which is 187. That number is down this semester and this could affect our funding in the future.”

In other business Hilterbran said that the Nelson Architectural Group is close to competing the plans and contract paperwork for the construction of the second phase of the college’s administration-information technology building.

“They are 87 percent complete with the contract documents and will have the plans ready for contract distribution by Feb. 1,” Hilterbran said. “They plan to open contract bids for the project Feb. 28 and estimate that construction will be complete in 12 months.”

Vice President for Academic Affairs Linda Lewis informed the board that SEARK has had its accreditation with the Higher Learning Commission renewed through the 2019-2020 academic year.

Lewis announced her intention to retire from her post effective May 31.

Amber Munnerlyn, administrative assistant for the Nursing and Allied Health program, provided the board with data from a comprehensive survey intended to assess student attitudes towards the college and the services it provides.

“The Community College Survey of Student Engagement asks for student input regarding five benchmarks of institutional effectiveness,” Munnerlyn said. “It looks at active and collaborative learning; student effort; academic challenge; student-faculty interaction; and support for learners.”

Munnerlyn said that the survey has been in use by SEARK since 2010 and that all benchmarks except student effort have risen over time.

The board approved a series of personnel actions including the hiring of Russell Carnes as a math instructor effective Nov. 16; Gregory Shapiro as a criminal justice instructor effective Dec. 3; Kristi Campbell as business manager effective Dec. 3; Verna Perry as an industry training specialist effective Jan. 3; and Marsha R. Miller as a nursing instructor effective Jan. 7.

The board approved the resignations of Celeste Henry as a career coach effective Nov. 28; Benjamin Moore as a shipping and receiving clerk effective Nov. 30; Antonio Bates as a publicity and recruitment specialist effective Dec. 14; Steve Sumner as a criminal justice instructor effective Dec. 31; and John Mayer as an institutional services assistant effective Jan. 15.

The board approved the financial report for the five months ending Nov. 30 as presented by Vice President for Fiscal Affairs Debbie Wallace.

Wallace reported $5,025,127 in revenue in the first five months of the fiscal year compared with revenue of $5,259,589 during the same time period last year, resulting in a decrease this year of $234,462.

Wallace attributed this in part to the lower enrollment numbers for the fall 2012 semester.

Wallace reported total expenditures in the first five months of the fiscal year of $3,857,162 compared with expenditures of $4,007,626 last year, a decrease of $150,464.

Wallace reported restricted fund expenditures of $633,213 through the time period, with a total budget balance for the year of $935,207.

Wallace reported total cash and cash equivalents of $7,216,895 as of Nov. 30, 2012.

Hilterbran announced that he received a letter of resignation from 17-year trustee Ronnie Jones, who cited a desire to be closer to his family in Missouri.