Johnson County Community College was founded in 1969 by visionary leaders who knew this County had great potential as a place to live, work, play and get an education. Like many pioneers, the folks who took on this project faced many challenges and questions - why buy so much land way out in the middle of nowhere for $10,000 an acre? Well, like any good pioneers, our college's founders did not let the naysayers and negative voices stop them, and Johnson County voters established JCCC at College and Quivira and funded the college through a dedicated property tax levy.
The value of that vision can be seen today. In fact, it could easily be said that our founders' vision was too narrow, and that more acreage for the growing campus would have been even better. The College now includes other locations around Johnson County, as we try to reach as many citizens as we can with valuable programs. Since I was first elected in 2011 we have opened the Olathe Health Education Center next to and in cooperation with Olathe Medical Center, continued to efficiently rent space in northern Overland Park and at the KU Edwards campus, and have expanded online programming. In addition, the Hospitality and Culinary Academy was completed on campus to allow our world championship quality culinary program the equipment, space and tools to grow even better.
JCCC is a comprehensive community college, touching over 35,000 credit and non-credit students each year. Its credit enrollment for the Spring semester of 2015 is approximately 21,000 students. Our college rivals KU and K-State as one of the largest undergraduate campuses in Kansas! In addition to offering college credit courses, the college offers certificate programs, continuing education programming, job training, GED support, and technical programs. The Carlsen Center hosts world class cultural and entertainment events and the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art brings art, artists and fans to campus on a daily basis.
A seven-member Board of Trustees is responsible for governance of JCCC, including selecting the college president, establishing the annual budget and tax levy, approving the curriculum, and creating the rules and regulations that are necessary to operate a college of this size. The Board of Trustee members are unpaid and elected to four-year terms in a non-partisan, county-wide election. On April 7 three positions of the seven will be before the voters, with the top three vote-getters being elected.
Establishing a responsible budget for the college is a key role of the trustees. The college operates on an annual general fund budget of approximately $140 million for school year 2014-2015. Like other educational institutions, the college is a people place, with nearly 80% of the operating budget spent on salaries and benefits for faculty and staff who teach and administer programs for the 21,000 credit students and 10-15,000 continuing education students served each school year. JCCC's primary sources of funding are a property tax mill levy paid by property owners in Johnson County (59% of total revenues), tuition paid by our students (23% of total revenues), and state aid from Topeka (15%). The current property tax mill levy 9.461, which results in a property tax of about $259 on a $238,000 home (the average home value in Johnson County in 2014).
The Great Recession hurt everyone, and JCCC was no exception. Property values declined in 2009, 2010 and 2011, down from an historic high in 2008, meaning less revenue was raised from the same levy rate. State aid has effectively been flat over the past several years and we have now budgeted for meaningful cuts to our state aid for the current and next school year. At the same time, enrollment jumped dramatically during the recession as citizens of all ages sought to improve their job skills and our enrollment trends remain positive. Because the college had established solid "rainy day" reserves, we were able to serve more students through the Great Recession with reduced tax revenue and without a property tax increase. The college did ask more of it's students through increased tuition and also asked more of its faculty and staff. Our challenge continues to be finding the right mix of revenues and the right level of expenditures to continue providing high quality, credible and substantive learning to our students. Finally, as our campus ages, we must maintain our physical infrastructure. As hard as it may be to believe, six campus buildings are 43 years old and another eight buildings are at least 22 years old. Investing in capital will continue to be important to our future.
With flat or declining revenues and more demands for job training, the challenge of doing more with less will continue. The challenge of supporting our K-12 students to prepare for college through JCCC's curriculum is ongoing. More opportunities exist than ever before for cooperation with the University of Kansas Edwards Campus, the new Kansas State University Innovation Campus in Olathe, and the many other private and public colleges in the county. JCCC will continue to be an important link in the public education infrastructure for our county, the metro area, and the state.
To continue the growth, reputation and success of JCCC, we need a Board of Trustees that operates with all of the college's stakeholders in mind - students, faculty, staff, visitors and the taxpayers of Johnson County.
For more information, please visit the Johnson County Community College website at http://www.jccc.edu.