For the second time in as many years, it has taken pointed questions from the Sentinel to get the Butler County Community College administration to provide data requested by a member of BCCC’s governing body.
On April 6, as part of budget discussions and salary negotiations, BCCC Trustee Julie Winslow requested a payroll list of all employees by departments and employee pay codes and salaries by department.
Winslow noted that enrollment over the last several years was down 25% and the college was looking at a reduction in force of professional (i.e. administrative) personnel only, without payroll data making budget and salary negotiation decisions was going to be problematic at best.
“As of right now, I don’t feel comfortable moving forward in negotiations unless it is known exactly where the college stands (in labor costs) right now … at this very time, in every department,” she wrote in an email. “How can we estimate the ramifications of all negotiated items without this information … given the fact that whatever is negotiated will likely reach and extend across all levels of employees at BCCC?”
Winslow even went so far as to simply ask for a digital copy of the payroll report run each pay period — only to have that declined.
Request stalled by Butler County Community College president
Winslow’s request was repeatedly stalled over the next two weeks as ‘clarification was requested by BCCC officials.
Then on April 20, Butler County Community College president Dr. Kim Krull emailed Winslow, “We will meet by the end of the week to discuss next steps to try to address the request below.”
Frustrated, Winslow reached out to the Sentinel.
On April 28, the Sentinel reached out to Krull asking a few simple questions:
“Please explain why members of the elected governing body of your institution are being required to file formal records requests to obtain the information they are entitled to, why the payroll information is not being provided in any form, and, further how Trustees can be expected to vote on a budget without full and complete information about what that budget contains.”
Krull did not respond, but on May 3, Winslow finally received the payroll data she’d requested.
A history of obstructing elected oversight
This is not the first time Winslow has had trouble getting information to which she is entitled as a member of BCCC’s elected board of trustees.
In January of last year, Winslow and fellow Trustee Shelby Smith had similar issues with getting information out of the administration they were elected to oversee.
Smith had made several requests regarding budget numbers, including for a satellite campus at McConnell Air Force Base, and received very little data or a delayed response.
“I made specific requests about McConnell Air Force Base,” Smith said at the time. “All I got was a summarized, maybe three-line item of ‘here’s our income, here’s our expenses here’s our loss.’”
Winslow at the time said she likewise had trouble obtaining information to which a member of the BCCC governing body is entitled.
Winslow said that, among other things, she has repeatedly requested copies of the college’s various insurance policies and said she was stonewalled in obtaining them or was told she could only view the documents on a system called SharePoint.
Winslow, who has a background in IT, said SharePoint is a collaboration and monitoring system that would allow the college to see exactly which documents she was looking at — and for how long — something she was unwilling to do.
Both suggested they were being forced to submit formal Kansas Open Records Act requests for information they are entitled to as members of the board.
BCCC said at the time they do not require Open Records requests from trustees. But Winslow says she is repeatedly forced to make official KORA requests to compel the release of information; this one was her 26th. She says BCCC is tracking her requests in effort to dissuade her.
“They are now keeping track of all of the KORAs that I request. I’ve had to insist on them bringing the KORA logs to the meetings so I can determine that everything that’s being entered in the log is actually what I asked. Kim Krull, the president, has tried to change it in the past.
“Right now every time they…do anything for me, as a request, it’s logged into their KORA report and they track the number of hours. Last time I met with them was a week ago (when) they presented two pieces of paper. At the time, they told me it took them 4 hours to complete those two pages. Later, they told me it was 4 hours each. I know they compiled some sort of report, but they only gave me a sample of it. I really can’t tell if it’s everything I need until I see the whole thing, which they have not shared with me.”