By Marlena Hartz: CNJ staff writer
Editor’s note: The following is a summary of the Q&A portion of Tuesday’s forum. Questions and answers have been edited for brevity and clarity. Candidate answers were limited to one minute. The election is March 6. Early voting runs weekdays through March 2 and is held from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Curry County Courthouse.
Q: Enrollment at CCC declined by 9.42 percent in fall 2006, according to the state formula used to measure enrollment. What will you do to boost enrollment at CCC?
Brumfield: “Cannon Air Force Base is one of the main reasons for enrollment being down. We were not down in enrollment until we were put on the BRAC list. There are no military spouses in the nursing program for the first time ever. I feel confident that we will retain (state) funding (based on enrollment figures).
Merritt: “There are two things I think we can do to help: Invest in long distance learning to pull more (students) in from surrounding communities and collaborative projects with Clovis Schools to encourage kids to think more about college.
Guthals: “It’s important for us to take a look at the needs of the community and businesses like Southwest Cheese and the ethanol plant. How can we as administrators feed off their needs and incorporate them into our curriculum?”
Mondragon: “I will work with the board and with (CCC) President John Neibling.”
Q: What will you do to improve staff morale?
Brumfield: “Get back on track with funding.”
Merritt: “Be sure that everybody is being treated fairly. Be sure that we have a good, safe, comfortable place for them to work and compensate them for their work.”
Guthals: “It’s critical we establish good, genuine lines of communication.”
Mondragon: “The responsibility (for staff morale) ultimately lies with the president and his staff. If things aren’t working well, the board should serve as a catalyst to address those issues.”
Q: How much time will you spend interacting with the staff at CCC?
Brumfield: “I will definitely not micromanage because I don’t believe that’s our place at all. It’s important for (staff) to feel like they are a part of it — I have a team concept. If they contact me, I would be willing to meet with them, but never go around Dr. Neibling. I support him.”
Merritt: “I’m self-employed, so I will participate as needed.”
Guthals: “It’s not the responsibility of a board person to enter into a classroom and look for problems. It’s important to be available, but we are not entitled to walk into an area and tell someone how to teach a class.”
Mondragon: “It’s real important that you don’t micromanage administration.”
Q: Do you believe every high school graduate has the right to attend college?
Brumfield: “It’s a kid’s right to have an education, … but … not everyone needs a 4-year degree. … Not every child is alike.”
Merritt: “Yes, every child has a right to education. I am a great believer in vocational education. Not every child needs an academic education. We should provide students an avenue for education that is practical for their life.”
Guthals: “Absolutely everyone deserves the right to education. Whether they take advantage of that opportunity is up to the individual.”
Mondragon: “Yes, I do…. Every child (also) deserves a scholarship if they qualify.”
Q: Please explain why you want to be a trustee.
Brumfield: “With the new mission at Cannon Air Force Base will come growth. Clovis Community College is poised to take advantage of that growth. I can see so many things to work toward — to get our kids to move forward and maybe even stay in Clovis.”
Merritt: “I really want to do what I can to work with Clovis Community College and the public schools and make it possible for every child to get an educational opportunity they want to take advantage of.”
Guthals: “I feel like I had a positive influence (while serving on Clovis Schools Board). I will fight for the money it takes to fund projects and compensate teachers.”
Mondragon: “I am the product of change. I help cause change. I believe in not being status quo, in looking at ways to improve the system, to encourage enrollment, to lower dropout rates.”
Q: What would you do to improve CCC?
Brumfield: “I would continue programs (in collaboration) with the Clovis High School. I would love to (improve) quality of life at CCC. For instance, with the walking trail, I would like to completely expand it, make it well lit, pretty and safe.”
Merritt: “My real interest is in health care. We really need dental assistants, nurses, surgical technicians. Right now, we have to go to outside colleges to recruit health care professionals.”
Guthals: “Quality of life is also important to me and encouraging more educational courses, especially in vocational areas.”
Mondragon: “The facility is aging. In order for us to invest in facilities, we need to get student enrollment up and encourage our high school students to attend college. We need a couple million more to thrive (with Allied Health Care).”