School is back in session at City Hall.
After a hiatus of two years, city employees can once again take on-the-job training classes that could lead to promotions and even college degrees.
The first set of eight classes in four subjects attracted 50 employees in June. The city's "Back to School" program will go into full-swing in October with 25 four-hour courses presented by Western Nevada Community College.
By January, WNCC will have a program in place where city employees will be able to earn a two-year public administration degree without leaving the work place, said Dick Kale, WNCC's director of manufacturing and technology services.
City Hall will likely become the third employer to offer on-site degree programs administered by WNCC. Harley-Davidson Financial Services in Carson City has the only program in place now but Quebecor Printing in Fernley will also have a two-year degree program in place soon.
Small and large businesses can ask WNCC to teach classes at their place of business.
"This is part of an effort to customize training for businesses," Kale said.
At City Hall, that customizing involves training employees to better serve the public. As an added bonus, classes offer an environment for networking - employees from different departments get to know each other, said Judie Fisher, the city's personnel director.
"Employees can get a better understanding of what people in other departments do," Fisher said. "This will help employees serve the public better."
Along with being able to earn two-year college degrees, city employees may also get a City Management Certificate by attending 17 classes in the 25-course Essentials of Management Certification Program that WNCC is bringing to a number of city facilities. These certificates are looked upon favorably when employees seek promotions, Fisher said.
The classes cost $35 per employee, which the employee's department generally pays or the personnel department picks up the cost.
Janet Busse, office supervisor in the city manager's office, took the four-hour stress management course in June. She needs only one more class for a general business degree.
"It was really helpful for me," said Busse, who has worked at City Hall about seven years. "It works really well for me because time's limited. These classes teach things you already know but reinforces what you already know to make you a better employee."
The June classes were stress management, fundamentals of managing, mapping a workflow/problem solving, and dealing with conflict. Fisher said employees most wanted these four courses from the 25 available.
All 25 courses will be offered at various city offices starting in October. Some of the other classes are business writing, dealing with complaints, sexual harassment, team building, delegating effectively and improving employee work habits.
Kitty Kulikowski, an accounting technician in the assessor's office, found the fundamentals of managing course in June to be beneficial for employees and bosses alike.
"It basically taught good communication skills that can be used by employees and employers," Kulikowski said. "It reinforces what I believe."
These courses renew a relationship between City Hall and WNCC that peaked from 1996 to 1998. The college at that time had a Center for Excellence that offered job-related workshops at the former Stewart Indian School or in-house workshops at businesses.
The center became inactive as its director, Anne Keast, left WNCC in early February.
The Center for Excellence, although a WNCC program, grew out of Carson City Manager John Berkich's five-year quest to create a continuous quality improvement program for the workforce.
"We realized there were a lot of training needs that we have and other organizations have the same needs," Berkich said in 1997.