San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

November 25th, 2009
Group circulates petition for ACC annexation

by BRAD ROLLINS
Editor and Publisher

Volunteers have begun circulating petitions asking Hays CISD voters to put a proposed Austin Community College annexation on the November 2010 ballot.

The North Hays Steering Committee has until April 2 to gather about 1,500 signatures – 5 percent of turnout in the last general election – asking the ACC board of trustees to call an election on whether to absorb the Hays school district into the college’s taxing district. Organizers are shooting for 2,000 to ensure they have more than enough, said Vince Collier, the committee’s Kyle co-chair.

“It’s the next step for this area to have an institute of higher education. It makes educational sense and it makes economic sense,” said Collier, a mortgage broker.

If the annexation effort succeeds, Hays CISD property owners would pay the college district’s tax of 9.54 cents per $100 in property value. That amounts to about $148 a year for the owner of a $160,000 home, the school district’s average.

In exchange, residents of the school district would pay the district’s $39 per semester credit hour in-district tuition and fees rate instead of the out-of-district rate of $137 per semester credit hour. For two full-time semesters of 12 credit hours, that translates to a total in-district cost of $1,296 per year compared to the current rate of $3,648 a year for Hays CISD residents.

Those kinds of savings would be welcomed to any family but can be especially meaningful to Buda’s and Kyle’s middle class and poor populations, Collier said.

“We have a lot of people in a very low socioeconomic class who don’t feel they have the option of going to college. They feel like they are stuck building houses or roads or whatever it is they know. This gives them a chance to do something else,” Collier said.

Said Terry Mazurek, the committee’s Buda chair, “The tradeoff is that you are able to reach a much larger segment of the population with decreases in tuition. It gives more people access to education and job training.”

More than 41 percent of Hays CISD’s student population, about 5,393 students, were economically disadvantaged in the 2007-2008 school year, the last year for which data is available. That represents an increase from the 2003-2004 school year when 3,576 students, about 39.7 percent, were economically disadvantaged.

According to the 2000 census, 5.5 percent of Buda and 12 percent of Kyle adults older than 25 years old had less than an 8th grade education with 7.5 percent in Buda and 12.9 percent in Kyle having less than a high school diploma.

San Marcos Mercury Editor and Publisher Brad Rollins writes about Hays County for the Hays Free Press where this story was originally published.

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