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October 19th, 2010
Commentary: Vocational opportunities ACC will not provide

Local Government Watch – Austin Community College District: A column
by LAMAR W. HANKINS

Those who favor the annexation of the SMCISD by the ACC taxing district claim that we need to be annexed in order to receive academic and vocational training opportunities (see Albert Sierra’s Commentary, September 27, 2010, The San Marcos Mercury). This claim is absolutely false. There is nothing in the ACC taxing district’s authority to serve the SMCISD that requires that we be annexed to receive course offerings of any kind. But what is absolutely true is that no other community college can serve the SMCISD and levy a tax on its citizens. And if we are annexed by the ACC taxing district, it will be able to tax us forever.

Just look at the courses that ACC now offers in San Marcos (without annexation): accounting, art, automotive technology, biology, English, government, history, psychology, business, math, philosophy, Spanish, speech. computer science, economics, and sociology. Except for automotive technology (which I have been told by knowledgeable people does not provide up-to-date training), few vocational courses are available, though vocational training is the focus of the much-heralded “strategic plan” developed by those in San Marcos who claim to be concerned with economic development and who are uncritical supporters of letting the ACC taxing district begin collecting taxes from us.

Just 15 miles away in New Braunfels is the Central Texas Technology Center (CTTC) operated by Alamo Colleges, a consortium of five community and junior colleges in the San Antonio area (San Antonio, St. Philip’s, Palo Alto, Northeast Lakeview, and Northwest Vista), which, as described in its publications, “offer associate degrees, certificates, and licensures in occupational programs that prepare students for jobs, as well as arts and science courses that transfer to four-year colleges and universities and lead to AA and AS degrees.”

CTTC, which began operations in 2005, was spearheaded by economic development groups in New Braunfels and Seguin. Working closely with the Alamo Colleges consortium, they focused on the kinds of vocational training needed to take advantage of economic development opportunities in the area and sought grants to build a first-class vocational training center.

CTTC explains that it provides a “regional workforce development” program that trains “the local workforce in emerging occupations that stimulate economic development.” CTTC offers courses and training in automotive mechanics, heavy diesel, manufacturing, welding, computers, medical (including for nurse’s aides), building trades, and more traditional courses in the arts and sciences and GED/ESL adult programs. Those who complete various courses of study and training can receive associate degrees, certificates and licenses in selected vocations, and marketable skills certifications. Students can participate in “short-term workforce training programs that connect residents to emerging jobs in demand occupations.” That is, they actually train students to become employees of such manufacturers as Caterpillar, a major employer in the New Braunfels/Seguin area, and H. B. Zachary, Cisco, Senior Flexonics, Austin Bridge & Road, and others.

CTTC has over 2,600 students currently enrolled, split almost evenly between dual credit students and those out of high school. The students live mainly in the Comal ISD, New Braunfels ISD, Navarro ISD, Seguin ISD, and attend or have graduated from some private schools in the area, and include currently at least two SMCISD graduates. All students, except those from Bexar County, pay the same out-of-district tuition–$107 per credit hour, with a minimum charge for 6 credit hours.

To determine what training to offer, the staff at CTTC regularly does research on the needs of area businesses, concentrating on those with four or more employees. From a recent survey, staff learned that many businesses were converting their computer software and operating systems to Microsoft Office 2010 and Windows 7, and were in need of employees trained on these systems. As a result of receiving that information, CTTC will offer three-month computer courses to respond to that need beginning October 28 and concluding on January 27, 2011.

Had the ACC taxing district worked with San Marcos economic development groups and officials a few years ago to produce a similar program for San Marcos that proved its value, there would likely be little opposition to the ACC taxing district annexing the SMCISD. But both San Marcos economic development leaders and the ACC taxing district have failed to produce vocational training opportunities in the San Marcos area that are even a shadow of what is offered at CTTC.

Aside from the mostly academic courses provided in San Marcos by the ACC taxing district, there is one little-known academic financial benefit for SMCISD graduates from low-income families who want to attend Texas State University–San Marcos. The program is called Bobcat Promise.  It pays for all tuition and mandatory fees for SMCISD graduates whose families have adjusted gross incomes (based on tax returns) of $35,000 or less. Bobcat Promise began in the fall 2009. The program pays about $8,000 in benefits for a two-semester academic year, making it possible for local graduates with inadequate financial resources to attend Texas State University–San Marcos.

Although the supporters of the ACC taxing district have made broad statements about what ACC will do if annexation passes in the election on November 2, the ACC taxing district will be under no obligation to do any of the things suggested. It doesn’t have to provide a “full service campus” (however that may be defined) in San Marcos. It doesn’t have to meet “the challenges of economic development” in San Marcos, a task that has never been focused on producing living-wage jobs for SMCISD graduates, but has been directed toward providing tax money to businesses and development projects.

Claims that local residents do not have access to a community college are simply not true.  But what is even farther from the truth is that the annexation by the ACC taxing district will guarantee SMCISD graduates ways “to improve skills and increase their income.” The ACC taxing district has not offered such opportunities in the SMCISD during ACC’s entire existence (36 years), and there are no legal reasons it could not have done so if it wanted to. The ACC taxing district does not have “a history of responding to industry and workforce training” in San Marcos, as claimed by its proponents, and there is no reason to believe that will change.

Approving annexation by the ACC taxing district is not buying a “pig in a poke,” because we know what we would get. ACC has failed to provide significant vocational training in the SMCISD as the Alamo Colleges have provided for New Braunfels and Seguin, though those two communities are not in the Alamo Colleges taxing district.

The ACC taxing district is like a suitor asking a woman to marry him because he has been nice to her, though he has seldom taken her out to eat, or to a movie, or dancing, or remembered her birthday. He promises that once they are married and he has access to her bedroom, the benefits of marrying him will be available in great abundance.  The taxpayers are in the role of the woman’s parents in my analogy. What would your parental advice be in such a situation?

I have maintained for the last four years that the ACC taxing district can demonstrate its ability to provide significant vocational training, but it has not wanted to do so, or it is incapable of doing what CTTC has done for the New Braunfels and Seguin area. Had it done so, it would have my support for annexation of the SMCISD.  Its failure in this regard makes clear that its interest in San Marcos is tied directly to its desire to tax our people and businesses to improve its financial stability, as the Austin Chamber of Commerce concluded in its 2008 Austin Community College Progress Report. The ACC taxing district continues to focus on Austin and the high-growth area in Williamson County–its real areas of interest and commitment.

The ACC taxing district is a poor bargain for SMCISD taxpayers. It has proven by its three decades of inaction and neglect that it has no interest in helping the economic development of San Marcos by training its young men and women for good jobs that could be available if we and they had leaders with vision.

Whether the annexation fails or passes, we in the SMCISD have much work to do. We need to help our schools improve their performance with the goal of graduating many more students. We need to make possible meaningful vocational training for our graduates, either by building a facility and program like CTTC or by arranging low-cost transportation to CTTC for our graduates. If this annexation election has done nothing else, it should have helped our citizens focus on the needs of the students and graduates of SMCISD. The task now is to make their lives better by making sure they have real vocational opportunities after graduation that can lead to living-wage jobs.

© Lamar W. Hankins, Local Government Watch–ACC taxing district

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30 thoughts on “Commentary: Vocational opportunities ACC will not provide

  1. This seems like a bit of a red herring. The courses ACC offers in San Marcos are mostly geared toward hs students who want to get some credits for college completed early. Some of the classes are for SMCISD students only. So yes they’re core curriculum. Is that bad?

    Alamo Colleges tax rate is higher than ACC’s. That might be one reason they can fund the CTTC without drawing on local property tax funds. It might be a factor in their necessity for raising their tax rate this past summer. Plus from what I can find in their city council minutes, both Seguin and New Braunfels city councils discussed “aggressive” financial incentives for the CTTC. I can’t find exactly, would take more time than I have, but it looks like the cities, state, and some local employers have all teamed up with Alamo Colleges on that one. What incentives has San Marcos initiated to have a similar institution?

    ACC also works a little differently than Alamo CC, usually grouping certain fields at certain campuses in kind of a wheel-spoke concept. Ie: if you want to do nursing you will inevitably take most of your nursing classes at Eastview. Alamo CCs are more stand-alone entities that don’t communicate as much with each other, probably reflecting the fact that several of them were their own private or public entities at one time.

    I have yet to hear an argument that explains how ACC will HURT San Marcos, other than asking us to pay a little more in taxes that amounts to $3-5 per month for most renters and $10-15 a month for most owners. Again, I pay more at Jason’s Deli every month. As I posted before, it’s still cheaper than most CCs in the state. People in Alamo college district pay more than ACC district, so I would say it is a bargain.

    If we want to utilize CTTC or have something like that here, we should do it, but so far this is the first time I’ve heard anyone propose it.

  2. Aaron, the $10-$15 a month figure you use is based on a rather modest home value, but even taking you at your number, that is $180 per year. That is a significant amount of money to my family, and as you pointed out in a prior post, that is money I will not be able to spend at local businesses or to support programs which benefit the entire community. That money will come out of the local economy and be sent to Austin to pay ACC’s bloated administration and significant debt obligations. All to subsidize entry level classes for Texas State freshmen from Dallas.

    No thanks, I know it is easy for some people to advocate confiscating another’s money for a government program, but spending another’s money is not generosity — it is despotism.

  3. John,

    I’ll say again… .0946 per $100 is a lower tax than 41 out of 50 community college districts in this state. Alamo community college district pays .1358 per $100. When I lived in the Rio Grande Valley, I paid .16 per $100 for Texas Southmost College. I consider .0946 a bargain for an institution that is at least equal to those I just mentioned.

    You can see the various community college district tax rates here: http://www.tacc.org/documents/fy10tax_001.pdf

    Given the debt rate it seems that ACC and ACCD are financially managed about the same, only ACCD takes in more taxes. Again, this might be a reason they have the ability to put vocational ed centers in Seguin and New Braunfels.

    The median home value in San Marcos according to city-data.com is $110,811. The median list price that I can find for zip code 78666 shows up as $234K and the median sale price is $155K. I’m not a homeowner here, but I’ll just assume that, like most counties, Hays appraises high, so let’s say median home appraisal is $250K. That is probably WAY high, considering we’re talking about SMCISD here, but I’ll go with that for argument’s sake. $250,000 / 100 * .0946 is $236.50. $19.70 a month. I pay four times that for a cel-phone. If you own a house that’s worth $250K, frankly, you should be able to afford that. That is one trip for two to the movies.

    I looked up my contribution based on my property owners’ appraisal value. It would be about $350 more per year for that property, divided by the units that’s about $37 per year, or slightly more than $3 a month for me. I’m willing to pay that. I looked up what some of the large apartment complexes are appraised for and divided by the units/residents those renters would pay a similar monthly amount, $3-5. I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if the properties raise rents by $25 or $50 using the ACC taxes as an excuse.

    If Texas State students are permanent residents of other areas they get in-district CC tuition in their home areas and will utilize those when not taking courses at Texas State. If they commute here from Austin or San Antonio they will likely use the CCs near their home. I don’t know why dorm-living freshmen would pay out of district tuition at ACC when they can go home during the summer and pay in-district tuition there. Frankly, if they are coming here from Dallas, Houston, whereever, that means they were academically strong enough to do better than go to comm. college at home, which means they probably won’t use ACC; they will pass their classes at Texas State and only if they fail will they reach down to their comm college, which they will probably return home for. What you’re worried about is probably an extreme minority. If they are local residents, they are paying taxes here through their rent. They’re not confiscating the money from anybody, they are paying for it as well. If they use the San Marcos ACC, I have no problem with that, I don’t understand why you do.

    The question boils down to do we or do we not want a community college in San Marcos? I don’t see how ACC is any worse than any of the others, particularly the ones in this region – McClellan, Coastal Bend, Alamo, etc… ACC is just as good as those and possibly better. For a lot of people the answer is no. If you are for a community college but don’t want ACC, propose creating a new district. But I’ve lived here for 9 years and no one ever has, nor has anyone proposed major improvements for SMCISD so more local students go to Texas State. It’s only now people seem to be suggesting such things.

  4. It is easy to see that you are not a homeowner. I own a house that I owe $ 93,000 on and is appraised at $ 134,000. I can sell it for maybe 119,000 in todays market.
    Every year I already have to magically find 2900 dollars to pay for my current property tax bill.
    What’s another 100 you say ? Every year you say ? For the next 60 years of my life you say ? And it might go up you say ?

    I say NO WAY !

  5. Aaron,

    Your logic is a little crazy. In your world you believe that the price for something should be based on your income and not the value of the product. The real issue is “Are we going to get what we are going to pay for?” The estimate is $3,000,000 per year for eternity. Is the service that ACC providing worth that for approximately 60 students per year from San Marcos CISD. Just imagine what the San Marcos CISD could do with this money in furthering the eduction of students K-12. If passed, the money would go to Austin for Austin’s benefit.

    Based on your earlier statement you are saying that if someone owns a 250k house they should be forced to pay $19.70 per month for only the reason that “well it’s such a small amount to this guy, he won’t even realize it’s gone”. Why don’t you lose the cell phone and send me $78.80 each month because I know you can afford it. We both know that won’t happen because it sounds like you just want to take other people’s money.

  6. “Based on your earlier statement you are saying that if someone owns a 250k house they should be forced to pay $19.70 per month for only the reason that “well it’s such a small amount to this guy, he won’t even realize it’s gone”.”

    That wasn’t my reasoning. I feel that ACC would improve the community to some extent, and that $19 a month is a small price to pay if you own a substantial home in the community. Stuff costs money. We’re going to get ACC or nothing as far as community colleges go. It costs nothing to not have one, but consequently we get nothing as a result.

    The better question is, do you feel ANY community college is worth the taxes? Because most districts in Texas charge more than ACC does.

    I don’t know what you’re talking about accusing me of “wanting other people’s money,” when I said I’m more than willing to pay my share. The question is do you want to improve the community? If you feel ACC will not do that, do you have an alternate proposal for a community college? Would you rather invite Alamo CC or start our own? What would be a reasonable tax rate? As I’ve said, .095/100 is a resonable rate by TX CC district standards. Or do you feel they are not useful and in no circumstance worth the money? That’s the sense I get from most of you.

    I’ve never been to a place where people DISLIKE their local community college. Yes, they cost money. You can’t get something for nothing and that is our choice, something or nothing. Since I don’t think there is another prospect for a community college, I’m for doing something.

  7. I am against tying it to property taxes. Just because we are a captive tax revenue source because we can’t just sell and move on a whim, does not mean we should always be the well to draw from. You start with ACC and then someone else comes up with something else that we need to fund. Hmmm who should we tax. I know those evil rich homeowners…

  8. Renters pay property tax through their rent. They have just as much stake in the community as homeowners do.

  9. Renters can leave without selling, don’t have to worry about replacing a roof, water heater, toilets, lawnmowers plus repairs to all the above.

    Taxpayers paid for our schooling kindergarten through senior year. Why should they pay for college too ?

  10. We should tax drinks on the square and in every bar to pay for this first, maybe a tax on water pipes and the stuff they are selling to these college kids. Let them feel what its like when someone taxes them.

    If ACC is so worth the investment, why are they not willing to invest in themselves ? Get a loan, a scholarship, or gasp a job and pay for your own schooling. It is the only way it will mean anything to you later.

  11. Well, thanks for making us seem like a lower class of person. I guess they don’t deserve a say? Maintenance costs for the property is what our RENT is for! When apartments renovate, the rents go up.

    Various renters also paid that property tax for K-12 at the time they were renting in San Marcos, whether or not they had kids in the system. Their length of residence is irrelevant. While they are here they pay their taxes through rent. Most do have leases, so they cannot just up and leave without notice or compensation. They are taxpayers too, you don’t seem to accept that.

    You already pay for numerous college students through your federal and state taxes, which are part of the funding for all community colleges and public ones like Texas State as well. That’s why they don’t have to charge $35-50K per year like Baylor, Trinity or TCU. To get a *community* college HERE, we will have to kick in some property tax.

  12. Aaron,

    I think renters are great. They pay property taxes indirectly. You understand that we have ACC in San Marcos right now providing courses don’t you? So, why would ACC try to tax us? They need additional money for their debt. It’s a pyramid scheme but some fail to realize it. They ned to increase their tax base to pay for the 500 million dollar debt. Remember also we have that big university on the hill.

  13. If ACC is so worth the investment, why are they not willing to invest in themselves ? Get a loan, a scholarship, or gasp a job and pay for your own schooling. It is the only way it will mean anything to you later.

  14. Anyone; renter, owner, visitor; who buys anything from a merchant or service provider who owns real property, fixture and inventory pays property taxes.

    Having memory of ACC’s petition fiasco some years ago, I am not favorably disposed toward its management. I wonder if the current press to get this thing passed here, in Bastrop and maybe other communities is more to stake out territory to the virtual exclusion of other and better community college districts without any intention of offering anything really useful for years.

    Did not SWTSTC or SWTSU not have a junior college in Uvalde? If so, what happened to it?

  15. Reply to Aaron:

    You write that “To get a *community* college HERE, we will have to kick in some property tax.” Clearly, you have ignored one of the basic points of all four articles I have written about ACC, including this article, which you have been commenting on so voluminously. We have had ACC here for years and they are here now. The problem is that they haven’t been serving the vocational needs of this community. There is no good reason to suppose that they will change their ways just because they are able to tax us. The Alamo Colleges to our south, however, have done exemplary work serving the needs of Seguin and New Braunfels without taxing them one cent. I note that their out-of-district tuition rates are about 25% less than is ACC’s in San Marcos. My primary concern has not been the tax they will charge, but their inability or unwillingness to provide the vocational training that will lead to living-wage jobs, something you have had nothing to say anything about. The facts are that ACC is worse than other community colleges as demonstrated by the prime example I focused on – CTTC.

  16. Bill,

    Southwest Texas Junior College still exists. It has campuses in Uvalde, Del Rio, Eagle Pass, and Crystal City. It is not, and never was, affiliated with Southwest Texas State University. The similar name was actually one of the arguments in favor of SWT’s name change. Out of state people and institutions sometimes confused the two, which diminished SWT’s reputation, according to some. For the record, SwTJC charges .11 per $100. They charge more than ACC wants to charge us.

    The only other community college district nearby is the Alamo College system. Having dealt with the fiasco of their operating system change, which caused thousands of students to not be able to register, and the general confusion that pervades their newest campus, Northeast Lakeview, I don’t see how they would be any better. They also charge more in their taxing district, .14/100. As far as I’m concerned the two are equivalent quality-wise. They are both better, however, than smaller districts with fewer resources like SwTJC

    I don’t think we *can* be annexed by any other CC district, since we are already in ACC’s service area. The whole state has been divied up among the 50 cc districts. So I think it’s ACC or nothing for community colleges. Here’s a map of the service areas. http://www.tacc.org/documents/CTCSer_000.pdf Other than Alamo we are two counties away from next closest ones.

    I think it’s ACC or nothing.

  17. Lamar,

    Obviously there is a limit to what ACC can offer working out of the high school from 5-9pm and Goodnight from 5-8. I looked up their offerings for spring 2011. It’s mostly geared toward early college credit, several of them are specifically early college start which only hs students can take. They don’t have the facilities for vocational ed here. I don’t think SMHS has an autobody shop. I notice Reagan and Crockett high schools in Austin do have ACC autobody classes; they must have the facilities.

    I have friends who got excellent jobs using ACC, particularly their nursing program.

  18. But then I consider community college’s purpose as a bridge to university just as important as its vocational mission. A place like Texas State can be daunting for your average SMHS grad. Fact is they are probably not prepared. It is one of the better public universities in the state, after all. A lot of the students entering it are coming from better school districts.

    They seem to concentrate their vocational classes at certain campuses, I don’t know what San Marcos’s concentration would be. I think they do this to be more efficient – you take your core at your local campus then go to the campus that has the facilities and equipment for your specialty. This must allow them to avoid putting multiples of the same resources at each campus. Makes sense to me.

    Sorry for my voluminous comments. I am a talker 🙂

  19. Okay. I was wrong, and Lamar is wrong.

    ACC does have some vocational classes in San Marcos. So they have, and I see no reason why they would cease to, offer vocational classes in San Marcos. It was reported in the San Marcos record, and you can confirm it looking at ACC’s schedule. They offer a number of automotive classes at Goodnight. They are given in Fall semsters, as their schedule shows for Fall 2009 and 2010. Some are only for SMHS students.

    http://www.sanmarcosrecord.com/local/x993488975/ACC-auto-training-coming-to-town

    http://www5.austincc.edu/schedule/index.php?op=browse&opclass=ViewSched_location&term=210F000&locationid=SMG&yr=2011&ct=CC'>

    The Daily record article also indicates what I suspected, that the off-campus centers “primarily offer core curriculum/general education classes that can count toward an associate degree at ACC or transfer to any Texas public college or university and count toward a bachelor’s degree.”

    It seems to me that ACC’s plan is to build something similar to their south Austin campus, which offers graphic design, animation CIS, and office development courses on the vocational side.

  20. I have been researching the ACC issue for several weeks now and I agree with Aaron and I am grateful to him for his voluminous comments.

    I would add that we need to step back and away from our selfish by nature ways, habits of scarcity, and survival level thinking and broaden our outlook to what it takes to have a community where everyone gets their basic needs taken care of, including our own. Some resident commented that I was being selfish for looking at the possible personal reasons we may want to vote for annexation when I began this research. Selfishness is a part of why we say Yes to ACC. An uneducated populace will continue to earn low wages resulting in underfunded or bankrupted Social Security and Medicare when we are all aging and needing it. However, when we get past selfishness on our way to understanding the bigger picture we are looking into the future and above our own narrowed interests.

    We love San Marcos and we want to do everything we can for our community. We clean up the rivers, we volunteer in the public schools, we watch after our neighbors and participate in many civic endeavors. ACC is inexpensive and offers an excellent variety and quality of courses. I am grateful they are willing and confident enough to bring a community college to San Marcos and Hays County at such a low tax rate. With all of our help, San Marcos residents (this includes everyone) can have affordable continuing and higher education. In time, I envision a demand for more course offerings. A more educated community will be attractive to companies that require highly skilled and educated workers; raising the median income through having higher paying jobs means getting more people off welfare, food supplement programs and other forms of temporary assistance. It is a win for lots of reasons.

    Voting for annexation of the SMCISD by the ACC taxing district is a big commitment but one we are willing to make to our community because of the short and long-term benefits. It is a good investment for, by and in the people of San Marcos and Hays County. Not investing in affordable education as a community has left it financially out of reach for many citizens that we care about.

    San Marcos has a larger than average Hispanic population than the State of Texas in general. I know that ACC will work closely with SMISD and TSU which is committed to serving the needs of San Marcos and Hays County. In fact, TSU announced that for the 2010 fall semester Hispanics now comprise more than 25 percent of the Texas State undergraduate student body. This reflects that commitment and I believe ACC will work to increase that number and to increase the number of local SMISD students going to college.

    Utilizing the government for what it was designed for and collectively taking actions through trust is a good Democratic idea that has worked successfully in this Republic. I say let’s keep doing the right things. Vote Yes to Annexation and welcome ACC as a needed addition to work with us towards fulfilling our community’s educational needs.

  21. REPLY TO AARON:

    Your problem must be that you don’t read carefully when the article is something you don’t like. In my column, I listed all of the courses currently being offered in San Marcos by ACC, including the one vocational course. For you to suggest that I did not acknowledge the vocational course is intellectually dishonest. The point I made is that what they say they “plan” to do is something they could have been doing all along in cooperation with our economic development leaders, but both groups have failed our students and graduates. There is no reason what was done in New Braunfels without annexation could not have been done in San Marcos without annexation.

  22. It seems that Lamar does not read his own columm. “Except for automotive technology (which I have been told by knowledgeable people does not provide up-to-date training), few vocational courses are available”. What are the other few vocational courses being taught by ACC in San Marcos besides automotive tech which as Lamar states is not up to date? Intellectually dishonest?

  23. They are adults, let them pay for their own education. we covered the first twelve to thirteen years, it is up to you know. ACC Is funded by the State $54,000,000.00 in fy 2010, the property taxes are above and beyond that.ACC has been ripping off Hays county students for years by their bloated out of district tuition rates,60% higher than state avg. Now, because those same rates are too high, we should let them tax our homes? I am surprised we are not running them out of town with torches and pitchforks.

  24. Lamar,

    “including the one vocational course.”

    They offer a number of automotive courses, not just one course. And you said this at the end of your column:

    “The ACC taxing district has not offered such opportunities in the SMCISD during ACC’s entire existence (36 years), and there are no legal reasons it could not have done so if it wanted to. The ACC taxing district does not have “a history of responding to industry and workforce training” in San Marcos, as claimed by its proponents, and there is no reason to believe that will change.”

    It has offered such opportunities, and does currently. The reason they don’t have more is because the off-campus centers are not primarily suited for that, as the San Marcos Record indicated. They do not control Goodnight or SMHS’s buildings, so they have to deal with the resources there. It’s not like they can install their own equipment in SMHS classrooms. I don’t know for sure, but I’d wager they can’t teach a CIS class probably because they don’t have authorization to install software on SMCISD computers, much less the tools needed to offer other classes. This is a failure on our community’s part. Fredericksburg has an university center where ACC can give some health classes. Somehow they arranged with ACC for that. I’ll bet their 24,000 sq ft. university center cost some money the community is paying for. http://www.hcucenter.org/index.html

    “something they could have been doing all along in cooperation with our economic development leaders,”

    I agree. I think that getting ACC annexation on the ballot was their plan to bring more education here. I don’t think they have any other plan. If annexation fails, I should hope they do something rather than nothing.

  25. “their bloated out of district tuition rates,60% higher than state avg.”

    This is probably because their district tax rate is in the lowest quintile of community college tax rates in Texas. They have to make up the funds somewhere. I don’t have time to calculate it now, but the range for community college rates is about .05/100 to .25/100. I’ll bet the average is about .14/100 or so.

    Lynny put well the question of community improvement and investment, which this is really all about. We either want a community college or not. We’ll have to pay for it if we do. There’s no other way to have one, and there’s not much choice other than ACC. Alamo Colleges are not coming here, and I don’t know of any plans to establish one of our own. If any you want to, by all means, propose it. Just be prepared that we will have to pay and probably more than ACC will charge.

  26. It is utter BS to claim that there’s no other way to have a community college than pay for one. We have one now (ACC), paid for with state money and tuition, but it does a poor job because it hasn’t met with economic development leaders (who I also fault for their lack of diligence) to put together sophisticated vocational training like the leaders in New Braunfels and Seguin arranged with Alamo Colleges.

    The Washington Monthly rated the top 50 community colleges in the United States for 2010. ACC is not among them, but 3 other community colleges in Texas are. Only about 1 in 4 students who enrolled in ACC for 12 or more credits in the
    fall of 2001 earned any certificate or degree within the next six years. This is a worse
    success rate than statewide rates for all community colleges in Texas (31.1%).
    (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board records, 2009; AAS story, 10/22/09)

    ACC’s “out of district” tuitions are 60% higher than the statewide average, according to a Texas Association of Community Colleges Senate Finance Hearing report, Feb. 2009.

    SMCISD graduates would have more vocational opportunities if we kept the $3 million annual ACC tax and spent that money on providing transportation, tuition, and fees for our graduates who want to go to CTTC, or better yet, do what New Braunfels did and build our own vocational training facility to be operated by a group that will be concerned about the quality of the vocational training so that our high school graduates can get living-wage jobs. I want the focus to be on our high school graduates, not on Texas State University students who want easier required credits from a community college at a cheaper tuition than is available to them now.

  27. Mr. Hankins, just want to say that the last couple of articles you have presented were of the quality that I have come to enjoy and expect. While I may disagree with your conclusions concerning ACC I admire you dogged defense of your position.

    I hope should the annexation effort fail that you will be as energetic in proposing an alternative that would not only service the traditional student population but also the non-traditional student.

    Whoever this Aaron guy is, while I think you are providing excellent points in support of ACC annexation, I think you would come off a whole lot better if you would just let people know you are a real person and not just made up. Keep it up you are really giving the opponents a hard time trying to spin their opposition.

    As for me, I am voting in favor of SMCISD being annexed by ACC.

    As a side note it was my understanding that there would be an equal number of articles in support of annexation. I only counted two. If there are more where are they? I’ve looked and can’t seem to find them. And lest someone gets their shorts in a bunch, I am not insinuating anything, just asking a question.

  28. Steven,

    I prefer to be anonymous on the internet. My full name is unique so it would be very easy for someone to google me.

    I think you’ve hit a good point that Texas State has a different mission from ACC and that it doesn’t really work for everyone. It never has, and never will be, the equivalent of a community college, nor should it be.

    I wonder if this was an organic proposal, ie: we were starting a “Hays County Community College” or something like that, if the opposition would be the same? The taxes would be as much if not more. ACC’s stats are about the same as every other large CC in Texas, at least according to the state institutional resume. That 31% Lamar cites for the 6 year graduation rate is just below the state average. Whatever problems ACC has, Alamo, San Jac, Tarrant Cty, Del Mar, and basically every other CC district in the state has. That goes for budget, success rate, etc… Texas as a state has major education issues.

    A major part of the problem seems to be that it’s “Austin” Community College and a lot of these people seem to not like Austin anything.

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