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NIC trustees move closer to hiring permanent president

Staff Writer | May 26, 2022 1:09 AM

COEUR d’ALENE — The search for a permanent North Idaho College president has been narrowed to five finalists.

Sarah Garcia, interim vice president for finance and business affairs, told the college’s trustees at Wednesday’s board meeting that the presidential search committee spent hours interviewing 11 semi-finalists over Zoom last week.

“They were one-hour interviews,” she said. “They went very well. They were exhausting.”

She said the committee has recommended five individuals to be interviewed by the board.

“There is a plan to work on securing dates to bring finalists to campus,” she said.

Garcia said it was interesting to observe the dynamics of a committee with members who were willing to listen to each other.

“People were willing to open their minds to the possibilities that some were maybe different in person than they were on paper,” she said.

Moving quickly to hire a permanent president was one of the conditions of the Northwest Commission on Colleges and Universities panel that recommended a probationary status for NIC earlier this year. Interim President Mike Sebaaly, the college’s former head wrestling coach, was hired last fall after former President Rick MacLennan was terminated without cause.

Board members squabbled about exactly how and when those finalists will be interviewed this summer. Vice Chair John Goedde shared with Chair David Wold that although he has scheduling conflicts and will be out of town for some of June, he is willing to conduct interviews over Zoom. Trustees Todd Banducci and Greg McKenzie took issue with that and expressed concern with inconsistencies in interview format and the speed at which the process is moving.

Trustee Pete Broschet said while he agrees with Banducci that consistency is good, he reminded the board that during the last special meeting, it was decided interviews would be conducted the first part of June.

“We need to get these candidates in the interview before they take other jobs,” he said. “As a board, we need to make sure there’s the time to meet and talk with these people to finish the process.”

Wold called for a vote, which received a 3-0 yield to move forward with the scheduling of candidate interviews with no votes from McKenzie or Banducci.

The board also discussed a resolution to reserve forgone taxes. The 2023 fiscal year budget proposal for NIC does not include an increase in taxes beyond taking new property on the rolls.

A 3% tax increase for the college would net approximately $519,000. Since the college is not taking this increase, the board has the opportunity to reserve this taxing authority for potential future use. Like other government entities in the state, NIC may use forgone taxing authority in the future, specifically as it relates to utilizing forgone taxing authority for capital improvement.

In her presentation to the board, Garcia reported that NIC currently has about $3.4 million in its forgone tax reserve.

“We have plenty already there,” McKenzie said. “I don’t think this agenda item needs to be on any future board meetings.

Goedde said his immediate concern is that NIC is facing the possibility of not having insurance.

“There’s another entity in this county that paid a multi-million dollar settlement in a federal case, and we could be facing that at some point in the future,” Goedde said. “I don’t want to take the forgone balance, but I understand the need.”

Wold asked that a forgone tax resolution be brought to the board at its next meeting, which is June 22.

The board also voted 4-1 to use Robert’s Rules of Order as a guideline for conducting business, rather than a rigid interpretation. Robert’s Rules of Order is a manual of parliamentary procedure often practiced by governing bodies. The NIC board had been strictly adhering to Robert’s Rules since the tenure of Banducci as chair.

Sebaaly asked for the board to return to using it as a guideline. Goedde motioned to make it so, with McKenzie serving as the “Robert’s Rules guide” for helping the board when parliamentary proceeding discrepancies arise.

“As we get in the weeds, you may be able to help us get out of it, just using Robert’s as the guideline,” Goedde said to McKenzie, who responded, “I’ll do my best.”

McKenzie seconded the motion, but was the sole dissenting vote as the motion carried.