Board approves $1 million for public relations for St. Phillips

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Board accepts the resignation of a trustee and adds District 3 race to May election.

By Joyce Flores

Enrollment at St. Philip’s College is down and administrators are hoping that a $1 million public relations push will boost enrollment. 

The Alamo Community College District board approved a $1.5 million fund request from St. Philip’s College in its regular meeting Tuesday.

St. Philip’s College President Adena Loston explained to the board that the money would be coming out of leftover money from the colleges’s 2006-07 budget. 

She said when she first arrived at the college in March, there was  a $1.8 million deficit and an agreement was made with Chancellor Bruce Leslie to see if the college would be able to roll over some of the remaining balance into the 2007-08 budget.

“(The college) did not fill 14 faculty positions and canceled 82 sections to offset the deficit,” Loston said.

She added that the college took extensive measures like not purchasing non- instructional equipment to save money.

In July, the chancellor sent a letter to board members asking them to consider the roll- over of the money. “A non- routine matter that I would ask you to consider is the approval of some carry-over funds from FY07 for SPC to use in FY08,” states the letter. “Dr. Loston has acted aggressively to solve problems, anticipate future needs and use resources wisely. She and her staff have instituted a number of cost-savings actions this year in face of another allocation decrease for FY08.”

Leslie went on to recommend the board approve up to $1.5 million for carry-over and added that he hoped the action would be taken to the board during the fall semester.

The chancellor explained that the measure was not brought to the board in the fall because the FY07 budget books had not closed yet.

The money will be divided among instructional technologies, a president’s initiative and public relations.

Loston said the college hopes to use the money to recruit from the immediate St. Philip’s community.

Much discussion took place as to whether one college should get a greater public relations campaign than the other colleges.

District 9 trustee James Rindfuss said he did not feel right about one college spending more on recruitment efforts. He said all colleges should be advertised equally.

District 7 trustee Charles Conner added that while it was not regularly done, St. Philip’s needed the extra recruitment efforts because of declining enrollment. “As noted in demographic studies, in the area surrounding St. Philip’s College, we don’t have those represented,” Conner said before adding that most St. Philip’s students were from the North or Northeast side of San Antonio.

District 2 trustee Denver McClendon said that one of the things that made the trustees uneasy was the amount of money being spent on public relations. “We are talking about a million dollars,” he exclaimed.

District 6 trustee Gene Sprague said there were times that justified target marketing efforts. “This is obviously one of those times.”

“We had a dramatic change in leadership at St. Philip’s; not only the president but thoughout the college,” Sprague said. 

“St. Philip’s is an exciting, great college, and the population in that area needs to be made aware that that college cares about them.”

Trustees voted 7-1 to approve the item. Rendfuss was the only one who opposed.

Another big topic for the night was the resignation of District 3 trustee Jennifer Ramos and what would be done to fill the position.

Ramos, who was an aide to Roland Gutierrez, was appointed to fill his District 3 City Council seat when he resigned. Gutierrez is running for the state representative District 119 seat.

She submitted her resignation letter Jan. 17 stating, “It has been a great pleasure to serve on the Alamo Community Colleges board of trustees since June 2004. During my time here, we have been able to see the community colleges grow and prosper in great strides. I look forward to continuing a relationship with the Alamo Community Colleges.”

Board members accepted her resignation and have decided to  leave the positon vacant until the May election. Along with Districts 4,8 and 9.

A similar incident occurred in February 2004 when District 3 trustee Vincent A. Lázaro resigned from the board. At that time, board members decided to advertise the position and interview candidates. 

Ricardo Martinez was chosen and served on the board for three months, before he ran in the May 2004 elections for District 3 trustee but was beaten by Ramos.

Zárate said the board decided not to do that this time around because it would be too time-consuming and the person chosen to serve on the board would not have enough time to get acquainted with the board process before the election in May.

Zárate said it would be better to let the person campaign and let the public decide.

The date for the May district trustee elections also were formally announced at Tuesday’s meeting. 

The board called for an election of three single-member district trustees on May 10 along with the Bexar County elections.

The board also unanimously approved the acquisition of five land purchases.

The district bought 59,292 acres of land at 10440 Jarrat Road, Von Ormy, on which the First Responders Academy will be built. It was purchased for $680,000.

This college acquired 124 E. Courtland for $192,000 and 204 W. Evergreen for $125,000.

St. Philip’s acquired 207 Gevers and 215 Wyoming for $182,000.

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