Today Texarkana College Board of Trustees members voted to approve a service plan to expand services and benefits to TC’s service area in Cass County pending voter approval at the November 8 general election. The plan is mandated by the Texas Education Code and is the first step toward calling an election to bring portions of the College’s service area into the College’s district.
TC’s service area in Cass County was designated by the state of Texas and includes Atlanta, Bloomberg, Linden-Kildare, McLeod and Queen City. The College provides services such as dual credit courses to these areas, but residents currently pay out-of-district tuition and fees for all courses. By joining TC’s district, property owners would pay a small tax to generate revenue that would help open a new Cass County workforce training site. Joining the district would also make residents of TC’s service area in Cass County eligible for in-district tuition and give them an opportunity to vote in TC Board of Trustee elections.
At the meeting, TC President James Henry Russell presented the service plan and explained the advantages of joining the district.
“These parts of Cass County have been part of our service area since our beginning—nearly 90 years ago,” Russell said. “We hear about a success story from a former student from Cass County almost every day.”
Russell said the idea to bring TC’s service area in Cass County into the College’s district evolved from citizen input.
“There is an identified need for a customized workforce training site in Cass County that offers certification programs that take two years or less to complete,” Russell said. “The entire service area would benefit from training that helps residents secure higher paying jobs that boost the economy.”
Benefits these residents will see include:
– Low in-district tuition rates in all academic, workforce, and dual credit courses;
– A new off-campus learning site in Cass County where students can earn a workforce degree or certificate from start to finish and have access to expanded academic classes;
– Increased dual credit offerings, which saves families tens of thousands of dollars on college tuition;
– Guaranteed representation on the TC Board of Trustees and the opportunity to cast votes for at-large board members;
– And they’ll see the lowest tax rate of any college in East Texas—and one of the lowest in the state.
Russell announced that TC will host a public hearing on July 21 at 6 p.m. at Atlanta Middle School to answer any questions the public may have concerning the process of joining TC’s district.
In other business, Trustees reviewed the first draft of the 2016-2017 budget. Kim Jones, TC’s Vice President of Finance, said each college division chairperson prepared their budget projections with a five percent reduction from the current year’s budget to allow for decreased revenue from the state, fewer private donations, and students graduating at a more rapid rate.
“The near break-even budget is very lean with salaries basically the same for the last three years,” said Jones. “Our staff and faculty maintain a heavy work load that leads to student success. The increased participation in our graduation ceremonies is testimony that we’ve built a culture of completion at TC.”
Jones said the budget will undergo several stages of review before its final adoption in August.
As part of the Vice President of Instruction’s report, Dr. Donna McDaniel announced news received from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) regarding TC’s reaffirmation of accreditation.
“I am pleased to announce that Texarkana College received notification of full reaffirmation of accreditation by SACSCOC,” McDaniel said.
McDaniel explained that President Russell received a personal phone call from Dr. Crystal Baird, SACSCOC Vice President, telling him that the Board of Trustees of the Commission on Colleges reaffirmed the institution’s accreditation with no additional reports requested.
“The TC faculty and staff worked tirelessly to ensure success on this project. I am so very proud of the wonderful culture of achievement we have here at TC! Texarkana College achieved this status through hard work and commitment to excellence campus-wide,” said McDaniel.
This ten-year reaffirmation process ensures TC’s accreditation through 2026.