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NIC board discusses tuition, salaries, alcohol

Tuition, salaries and alcohol were big topics of discussion Wednesday night at the North Idaho College board meeting.

Trustees passed a tuition schedule for the 2006-07 school year; heard the college president’s response to faculty salary and benefit requests; and debated the possible merits and dangers of relaxing the college’s alcohol policy.

Next year, students will pay the following tuition and fees per semester, based on their residency:

• Idaho residents: $996

• Washington residents: $2,020

• Western states residents: $2,244

• All others: $3,272

In raw numbers, the increase from this year’s tuition and fees is $52 for Idaho residents and residents of non-Western states and other countries. Western states residents will pay $78 more. Washington residents will see no increase, in an attempt by college officials to attract more students from neighboring cities such as Spokane.

NIC bills Idaho counties $500 for each student from those areas who attend the college, except for Kootenai County because the college receives property taxes from its residents.

The Western states whose residents receive a discount are: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.

In other board business, College President Michael Burke recommended a 0.75 percent raise for employees who received only a 0.5 percent raise from the state this year. That would apply to all staff and faculty with the exception of those in the professional-technical fields, who received a 1.25 percent state raise. That way, all employees would receive the same increase next year.

The school’s faculty had asked, among other things, for a 5.7 percent pay raise, for the college to pay a larger percentage of insurance premiums, and for the entire week of Thanksgiving off.

Burke added that if enrollment is up next year, the college should consider giving a one-time bonus to employees. He recommended denying all the other requests. Burke has said that next year’s budget will be “austere.”

On the topic of allowing alcohol on campus for certain events, the board decided to study the issue further before opting whether to send it through the policy adoption process.

College officials, board members and the student government president all weighed in on the issue, with varying opinions.

Burke said he personally has concerns about changing the current policy, which prohibits all alcohol on campus. The College of Southern Idaho has the same policy in place.

Because chemical dependency and alcohol abuse among students are national problems, Burke said, that being a dry campus sends a powerful message about making healthy choices.

“What we do, we need to do carefully and thoughtfully,” he said. “We won’t be able to put the genie back in the bottle.”

Trustee Christie Wood responded to a college employee who asked why Wood, a Coeur d’Alene police officer, would bring such an issue to the board. “Alcohol consumption is not illegal,” she said.

Wood acknowledged that illegal acts can stem from alcohol use but that the type of events the policy would allow are fundraisers for nonprofit groups, for example.

Student body president Josh Gittel said that if this policy is adopted, sooner or later students are going to want to have the same access to alcohol on campus for their events.

Interim Vice President Paul Olscamp, who supervises instruction, said his input is based on working at seven universities in his career, which had varying policies on alcohol.

“It’s too much trouble,” Olscamp said of allowing alcohol on campus, and he cited discipline problems, property damage, vandalism and assaults. “I’d keep it off campus.”

The discussion also spanned liability issues, enforcement and security.

Trustee Judy Meyer suggested adopting a policy down the line that would be on a six-month trial basis.