May’s Board meeting: honors, open-sourced text, and layoffs

The Mt. Hood District board of education on Wednesday convened as the school’s budget committee and approved an operating budget for next year, after which it conducted regular board business.

MHCC President Debbie Derr recognized two Rho Theta students for an All-Star Academic Team recognition. Having won scholarships sponsored by Coca Cola, students Brenna Schmidt and Dang Dinh were presented with certificates and MHCC memorabilia.

“This is sort of the culmination of celebrations for these two students, and we’re very proud of them,” said Derr. “Both of our students moved forward to the national competition, and both received honors. They were among 1,800 applicants for these awards, which Phi Theta Kappa honor society administers.”

Led by Al Sigala, MHCC Foundation executive director, Foundation leaders presented their annual report to the board. At the Foundation’s annual auction held April 15, $286,000 was raised. A special computer system was set up to keep in contact with alumni and keep them updated on events and news.

Foundation President McKenzie Tucker also talked about the simplified process of selecting students for scholarships. “We moved the entire scholarship process under the realm of the Foundation, and we did that by hiring our alumni outreach and scholarship specialist whose name is Marci,” said Tucker. “We made it so much more effective and efficient and competitive with other colleges.”

Sigala talked about unused Foundation scholarship funds, where leaders had to evaluate their scholarship process. They worked on making the process easier for students, including better online applications.

Mt. Hood math instructors Nick Churra and Jack Green presented an open educational resource (OER) option for students they worked on during their sabbaticals. They created a digital, interactive math book in which students can plug equations and automatically see what happens when equations are graphed.

Churra and Green said they wanted to make it so that students work on figuring out the basics of their math principles outside of class, and then apply those principles to more difficult situations when in class. Green compared the current (poor) approach of mathematics education to building a car: He said instructors teach their students everything that is needed to be known about a single wheel, but students are expected to build a whole car outside of class.

Derr then presented Green with an award of recognition from Stanford University. The award recognized the connection he made with a former student who had moved on to Stanford.

Gaveling in again as the budget committee to receive public input for the 2017-18 budget (there was none), board members got a review from MHCC budget manager Jennifer DeMent, then voted unanimously to approve it (as the regular board).

Soon after, Corey Houston, president of the classified union at MHCC, expressed regret and concern for the $277 million budget plan.

“In here, somewhere, are our values,” Houston said. “Line by line, you can peruse through and see those values, but for some of us, in there are our colleagues and our co-workers. And some of those colleagues and co-workers aren’t going to be here next month because of decisions that were made in this document,” he said.

“For me, one of the things that pops out in addition to the loss of colleagues is the line item for student employment from every department on this campus, and I would say that there are employees sitting in this room that make more in a year than this college budgets for student employment.”

In a lighter moment, MHCC writing instructor Lidia Yuknavitch was recognized by Sara Rivara, dean of humanities, mathematics and social science, and Garie Zordich, her administrative assistant, for her new novel, “The Book of Joan,” which has received glowing reviews from the New York Times and Washington Post newspapers.

The next regular board meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. June 14 in the MHCC boardroom.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.