After four years of working with other members of the community on the Board of Trustees at Northwest College, Bob Newsome wants to continue guiding his alma mater through an uncertain future.
“There’s an awful lot that goes on behind the green curtain in the Land of Oz,” Newsome said. “To learn how to facilitate new programs and deal with budget shortfalls, it takes a while to get that. After my term, now I know I have the experience to have a much better grasp on it.”
Newsome said it was likely the next “two or three” years would be a tough time for the college, including this year, where it is facing a $3 million deficit. He said tough decisions will have to be made as early as spring about the future of some of the programs, both academic and athletic.
“Undoubtedly, some classes and some programs, simply due to multi-year decline in enrollment, will be looked at and some will go away,” Newsome said. “It’s nothing anybody really wants. Northwest College cannot continue to offer everything it has in the past. Some things will have to go in this next year.”
Some have disagreed with Newsome’s assessment. He said some people have come to him expressing “hope” coal will come back, reversing the falling tax revenue throughout the state. Newsome doesn’t share their view.
“Hope is not a financial planning mechanism,” Newsome said. “We have to look at the short term, at the next few years. Oil, gas and coal don’t look like they’re going to come back to previous levels.”
Newsome sees giving additional resources to hands-on jobs training as a way to aid the ailing school that has suffered from declining enrollment for years. Welding programs have seen an increase not only in traditional students fresh out of high school but people returning to school to pick up another skill.
He also wants to improve the partnership between the College and the local school districts, both for the benefit of the students and the College.
“For those students that are motivated and desirous to do that, by the time they graduate high school, if they’re diligent, they can have almost an entire year of college credits under their belt with very little cost,” Newsome said. “For NWC, it’s very simple. If high school students are taking dual/concurrent classes, it makes sense. They can just slide down the road from Cody to Powell and get their first two years of education with very minimal expenses.”