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

February 23rd, 2010
San Marcos ACC boosters to start petition drive Thursday

022310accgraphic
These statistics developed by Austin Community College from U.S. Census Bureau data show that San Marcos lags well behind Austin and Hays County in educational attainment for adults 25 and older. Austin Community College graphic.

STAFF REPORT

The San Marcos ACCess coalition will officially kick off a petition drive Thursday to place San Marcos CISD annexation into the Austin Community College district on the November ballot.

The kick-off will take place Thursday, 5 p.m., at the San Marcos Public Library (625 East Hopkins Street).

“This effort will bring lower tuition rates and a full-service, comprehensive campus to San Marcos,” said Albert Sierra, San Marcos ACCess co-chair. “The return on investment is high.”

San Marcos ACCess would have to collect about 2,000 signatures before April 9 to place ACC on the November ballot.

If San Marcos CISD voters approve the measure, then ACC would tax property owners 9.46 cents per $100 of taxable property value. With tax exemptions, seniors and the disabled would pay nothing to ACC on the first $110,000 of their taxable property value.

In exchange, ACC’s tuition rate for San Marcos CISD would fall from $139 per credit hour to $37 per credit hour. ACC also plans to build a campus on 72 acres near San Marcos High School if San Marcos CISD joins the ACC district.

“This effort is about giving San Marcos residents, especially our young people, greater access to education,” said Kim Porterfield, who co-chairs the coalition with Sierra and San Marcos High School Senior Miguel Arredondo. “Community colleges provide high-quality, affordable education that helps citizens find better jobs, earn higher wages and contribute to the local tax base.”

San Marcos ACCess members will present a brief presentation Thursday, followed by statements from community, business and youth leaders. A ceremonial signing of the petition will culminate the event, to which the public is invited.

Sierra, one of the founding members of LULAC #654 and former chair of the San Marcos ENLACE coalition, said joining the ACC District makes sense for San Marcos.

“ACC is the point of entry into higher education for more than 70 percent of minorities in the Central Texas area,” Sierra said. “ACC is also a leader in workforce training. These services will be more convenient and less expensive for our residents if we join the district … We must have more of our graduates attending college if we want San Marcos to remain competitive.”

022310accAn artistic rendering of an ACC campus building. Austin Community College graphic.

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20 thoughts on “San Marcos ACC boosters to start petition drive Thursday

  1. What do we know about the proposed ACC operation except the largely optimistic and intangible promotional spin to which we have been exposed this round, aside from the rather awkward and dishonest first try a couple of years ago?
    WHICH courses that would allow an SM student to complete without doing the Austin (or Kyle) commuting thing? WHO would be the faculty? Would there be labs for all the “hands-on, practical, common-sense, career-oriented” learners? HOW did Ms. Porterfield, Community Relations Director from TXSTATE and City Council member, become the apparent ACC spokesperson qualified to speak for their administration and to make promises on their behalf? Does she not see a bit of conflict in her wearing both hats and stumping for a POLICY that involves opening a new taxation vein for the good of, but outside the realm of, both her “mother institutions”?

    I attended a community college before SWT, and was primary liaison/student advisor for some time between SWT’s “nontraditional” students and ACC. No problem there. As a youth,I benefited by living at home and paying low tuition, and had full access to both arts and sciences curricula on my hometown campus. As the Chair of the Gary Community Relations Council, I saw the group work very hard to establish articulation arrangements between GJC and ACC and TXSTATE, to provide a bridge. We also established a quite successful scholarship fund to help students make the transition. Same for the other end of the spectrum, via San Marcos Literacy Action. But now it sounds as though there is something NEW and exciting in the wind. I just don’t know for sure what IT is–sounds like a convenient arrangement for the institutions involved, maybe more even than the aspiring students, who are actually the ones who matter in this whole equation.

    Institution BUILDING–not so much. Too much of that going around anyway. Institution IMPROVING–I’ll have another helping, if the cost is not overwhelming. As I said in closing each meeting of the Gary Council: “Be a window. Be a bridge. Be a stairway, for another person to reach out and catch the dreams.”

  2. San Marcos councilwoman Kim Porterfield is the wife of Wenton Porterfield who works for Loomis Partners who will get the engineering job for the ACC campus located on a Randall Morris property who contributes to the election campaign of councilwoman Kim Porterfield.

    Don’t you just love the symmetry!

  3. O’dell your at it again. Where did you get the info about Loomis getting the engineering job and Morris selling the property? I guess this is public record somewhere or are you just spreading rumors, hate and discontent? Please prove me wrong

  4. Mr. Moore- As Mayor of San Marcos, weren’t you also on SWT’s payroll ?
    (just curious. I’m not going to jump to any conclusions…)

  5. I do not work for Loomis and haven’t for five years. My wife and I have no stake whatsoever in where an ACC campus may be built, or who will do the engineering. Kim has volunteered in public schools for years and she supports the ACC expansion because she thinks it’s a good deal for the future of our town. There are folks who disagree, and many of them are our friends. I think we are able to have a healthy conversation about the issue without personal attacks and unfounded charges.

  6. Mr. O’Dell is wrong once again. Why am I not surprised by that?

    And Mr. Moore – I think what has changed today is the escalation in tuition and fees. When I read what you said, I remembered how, in the dark ages, I could write out a check for my tuition at UT and it wouldn’t bust me. I actually turned down some scholarship money because I really didn’t need it, but thought others could use it. But back then, our state universities were actual “state” universities. Our state universities actually received a great deal more funding from the State of Texas. But those days are gone. Wish I could say we had progressed from the Dark Ages into the Renaissance – but history doesn’t always repeat itself.

  7. I have yet to hear any compelling argument as to why its a good idea for everyone in the SMCISD taxing jurisdiction to foot a couple hundred extra bucks a year and buy down tuition rates for a couple dozen kids per year.

    If kids want to go to college – they can. If (like me) they can’t afford it, they can take out student loans (like me). If they can’t get into Texas State, there is already an ACC campus less than 30 minutes away and another potentially coming in Kyle.

    Ask yourselves this question….if we offer up a ‘higher education’ on a silver platter for our high school graduates, how much value will they place in it and how many of these kids will even bother to finish? My feeling is not any more than are doing so now.

    Say “no” to this bad investment of our money.

  8. The Return on Investment for a Community College in Texas is 5.1 dollars for every dollar invested. Everyone benefits not just the students. ACC is the largest feeder Community College for Tx State and UT. ACC transfer students do better that students that start their college journey at four year Universities in Texas. I worked 40 + hours a week as a manager in a sit down restaurant, used my GI Bill, Academic scholarships, the Texas Hazelwood Military funding and a few student loans to pay for my SWT degree in four and a half years. The cost has skyrocketed in the last 15 years. ACC would make it more affordable as most folks do not have funds like the G I Bill. I took two classes at ACC back then because large class size was a barrier for me in Calculus. The small class size ACC provided gave me the one on one attention I needed to succeed. I do not remember any silver platter while I was attending ACC.
    Sign the petition and let the voters decide.

  9. The right education can help these kids break out of their socioeconomic quicksand. True, ACC by itself is not the complete answer. But it can be a key part of a variety of ingredients to bring positive results.

    There was some great dialog in the readers’ comments section of the “ACC petition drive soon to start in San Marcos” article on this site. I hope some of the ACC drive leaders read them and then let us know how we can get ACC to coordinate with SMCISD even better than they do anywhere else in the ACC system.

    I hope most of us recognize the importance of education to our society. And I hope we can focus the dialog on how we could maximize the ROI of ACC for our community. It’s more than simply lowering the cost of college for a few students.

  10. You might not realize it, but you just made my point, ARMYDAD.

    You worked hard and you EARNED your way through college and no one had to put it on a silver platter for you. As far as “most people don’t have funds like the GI Bill”…..well, there is nothing stopping them from earning GI Bill on their own, is there? Or working 40 hours a week….or driving to Austin for their classes….or paying full fare and taking out student loans.

    I too would be curious to see the original source of the oft-quoted statistic about ROI from community colleges….not that it matters to my argument becuase ACC is ALREADY ACCESSIBLE TO SAN MARCOS GRADUATES.

  11. Austin is a long walk without a car. Oh, maybe I can earn money for a car in working in a fast food establishment. Oh wait, I do not have parents to help support me so maybe I can get up at 3am and start walking to Austin. Better yet, I can live on the streets in Austin until I figure it out. As far as working 40 hrs a week, are you hiring? Not many businesses are currently hiring in case you have not heard. I served my Country as my Dad did before me and my son currently does in Iraq. I pray for the day that one less person has to enter our Armed Forces and offer their life in the quest for an education at a College or University.

    Steve is correct. You can get the information of the State of Texas Comptroller’s Office. I would not want to hurt your feelings by handing you the information on a silver platter.

  12. Most of the arguments here (or at least in the past couple of comments) are all focused on access to education, rather than the specific ACC-proposed deal. We can all agree that education is important; most of the debate is centered around who should be paying for it.

    The proposed deal doesn’t lower tuition; it just changes who pays for it. Currently the burden to go to ACC falls with the attendee. The proposal would shift roughly 2/3’s of the cost to home and business owners to the tune of several million dollars per year. Is it worth it? That’s the issue.

    I wasn’t here when the forged signature issue came to light, but generally there’s only two reasons to forge signatures on a petition: either you’re proposing something unpopular and you can’t get enough people to sign, or you are just inept and don’t know how to get people to sign. It will be interesting to see, starting late, if ACC can get enough signatories without having to resort to forgery….again.

    Unless there is a massive campaign against the proposal, if it makes it to the November ballot it should pass rather easily. (Remember, in Austin it took a multi-million dollar campaign with the Mayor of Austin on TV constantly to defeat Prop 2, and even then only by a slim margin.)

  13. ACC does not collect signatures. A community wide committee was formed by area folks not by ACC. The “deal” does lower tuition. It also raises taxes but it lowers tuition.

    We all share a certain cost when we have a community of less educated people. We will continue to pay that cost with a community that makes fewer dollars in part, because of less education. We can decide to change and invest in education. We can also say I got mine and others can get theirs as well and continue on the same old road we are on. The reality is that moving from one socio-economic level to the next does not happen very often. Access to education is the best tool to move up the ladder. No absolutes just what typically happens at an overwhelming rate. We will all continue to share the cost. Sign the petition and let the voters decide.

  14. But ACC is ‘behind’ the deal in that there would be no committee if ACC didn’t want to expand down here. And let’s be honest about the financial situation: Lowering tuition only when they can raise taxes is basically like saying you can get the great deals at Sam’s Club only when you pay the membership fee. Yes, you can get a better deal, but Sam’s does come out ahead financially or they would do something different. ACC stands to make a profit. That itself shouldn’t be a deal-breaker but lets not hide that fact in a web of fuzzy math.

    For the record, I’m still undecided on the issue. But you shouldn’t sign the petition unless you want ACC to expand down here. When you sign a petition like that you are publicly going on the record as being for the proposal. And the committee will proudly tout your name as someone who is for their proposal.

  15. Heh, let’s give everyone free health care, too. While we are at it, why don’t we pay for everyone’s house payment so that folks don’t have to work so hard to make ends meet. When does it stop?” When is it up to the individual to be responsible for their own actions and desires?

  16. Signing the petition does not mean you support the item. It means that you understand that in the USA we should reach out and allow the voters to decide if funding education is important enough. Last I checked, ACC does not pay any dividends. A profit generally is the making of gain in business activity for the benefit of the owners of the business.

    scott davis, I do not think anyone wants to fall in to the distraction you make. No one has argued for free healthcare or paying for someone else’s house payment. We are responsible for our own actions but do not forget that not much time has passed since separate but equal was outlawed. The main issue of access remains key for me. Funding is a segment of access for Higher Education. Some of Steve Harvey’s comments seek the creation of solutions in addressing the barriers our community as a whole face. Sign the petition and let the voters decide.

  17. It is also a form of democracy to NOT sign the petition as well.

    As for the rest, everyone has access to all the education they want. I was raised in a fairly well off family who did not put much emphasis on higher education. I decided I wanted to go to college and found a way. I went to private schools that 20 years ago cost more than most public schools do today. I worked full time and still took at least 12 hours of classes each semester. I did not have access to any grants due to my family’s income and was not smart enough 🙂 for scholarships! I still graduated in 4 years with a 3.35 GPA and a small student loan. I did not depend on cheap education for my access to education. I took the bull by the horns and got my education myself.

    It’s kinda like the little chick in the egg. If you help it break the egg open, it will never survive. If you let it struggle a little and fight its way out of the egg, it is a much stronger, healthier chick.

  18. Besides, not everyone is made for college. We do still need regular old workers for construction, etc. Remember, without the workers, you don’t ahve a pot to piss in!

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