Tobin Lofts developer proposes housing for veterans center.
By Kyle R. Cotton
The Alamo Colleges trustees removed both the North Central Campus VIA park-and-ride lease agreement and the new tuition and fee schedule from Tuesday’s agenda of the regular board meeting.
The proposed tuition increase, which the board will revisit March 28, was removed after District 2 trustee Denver McClendon, District 3 trustee Anna Bustamante and District 4 trustee Marcelo Casillas expressed concern that the tuition increase could discourage students from taking a full-course load.
Diane Snyder, vice chancellor of finance and administration, said during the committee meeting March 8 and the regular board meeting Tuesday, her office is working on a proposal that would counteract the increased cost past six credit hours.
Snyder said she could not get into specifics of the proposal as they are still finalizing it for April, but did share possible ideas such as free summer classes and a point system for students taking a full course load.
“We are still putting together the proposal, but we put forward the schedule first so that it would be in place for when registration for the fall opens up in April,” Snyder said.
The board unanimously removed the item from the agenda with the understanding it would return at a special board meeting at 6 p.m. March 28 with additional information on the percentage of students who are full-time and part-time and the possible incentives for full-time students.
Under the proposed revisions to the tuition and fee schedule, students would pay $83 per-credit-hour for in-district tuition. After six credit hours, students would be paying more than they were under the current schedule.
Snyder said this is to ensure that revenue stays the same as they move to this new schedule.
She said the new schedule is more straightforward and satisfies what the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs wants with per-credit-hour pricing as opposed to charging one tuition for up to six credit hours.
The VA came to a special agreement with the Alamo Colleges last summer when the VA pushed for the change.
The board also pulled a park and ride VIA lease agreement, with the intention for it to return at a later date, at the request of John Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities, as negotiations are still ongoing.
At the March 8 Building, Grounds and Sites Selection Committee meeting, District 9 trustee James Rindfuss brought up the idea of leveraging the agreement to get a bus stop out by Northeast Lakeview College.
Strybos said the agreement just wasn’t ready.
“That’s impossible. VIA can’t put a bus stop at Northeast Lakeview due to factors out of VIA’S control,” Strybos said.
During citizens to be heard, The NRP Group, which previously developed Tobin Lofts, presented a proposal for housing called the Anthem as part of the Veterans Victory Center.
Construction of the center is up for bid until 2 p.m. April 12.
Sen. José Menéndez (D-San Antonio) originally wanted housing as part of the center, but President Robert Vela has had issues finding viable options.
Under NRP’s proposal, the Alamo Colleges would have no cost and the development would be paid completely through $35 million in private funds.
There would be 225 units with an expected five-year income of $1,940,503 to the Alamo Colleges.
As the developer in a private-public partnership, NRP gets a share of the revenue for each of its projects.
However, The Anthem would include housing for non-veteran students, which Vela is reluctant about because he wants the building to be totally dedicated to veterans.
“You would have first-time-in-college students and veterans and their families under one roof, and I don’t think that would be a very good environment,” Vela said.
Vela said he likes the proposal from the NRP Group, but he is exploring other options with private funds through USAA and governmental funds through U.S. Housing and Urban Development grants.
Dan Markson, NRP group senior vice president of development, said with the success of the Tobin Lofts, his firm is confident the NRP will be able to handle The Anthem project.
Markson said since Tobin Lofts has been built, the increased foot-traffic has reduced crime in the area.
“It used to be you were taking your life into your own hand if you cut through the side street to walk toward Main Street,” Markson said.
The board also congratulated Northeast Lakeview College for its successful candidacy visit for accreditation.
Dr. Thomas Cleary, interim president of Northeast Lakeview and vice chancellor for planning, performance, accreditation and information systems, said the on-site team visiting from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges recommended Northeast Lakeview expedite the process when candidacy is granted.
“Halfway through the visit — and this is how we knew it was going well — they suggested that we should expedite our process,” Cleary said.
Cleary announced the SACSCOC accreditation on-site visit would be Feb. 6. In an interview after his presentation to the board, Cleary said he expects a draft report to be prepared before a new president is appointed at Northeast Lakeview at the end of the summer.
“It’s not only possible to get this done quickly, it’s probable,” Cleary said.
Chancellor Bruce Leslie was absent from the regular board meeting.
Cleary, who is the acting chancellor in Leslie’s absence, said Leslie was out of town on business.
Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success, filled in for the chancellor on the board. Each of the vice chancellors rotates moderating responsibilities during the scheduled trustee meetings in the chancellor’s absence.