Alamo Colleges lost $15 million in waived tuition last year.
By R. Eguia
High school chief financial officers and superintendents of this district’s service area gathered at the Bowden Center on the campus of St. Philips’ College May 9 to hear the recommendations generated by the dual credit task force.
Attendees were given a manila folder complete with an agenda, the 12-page task force recommendations packet and an expenditure list for the high school representatives to fill out.
The index listed eight expenditure categories associated with dual credit for high school administrators to fill in approximate amounts allocated for the 2015-16 school year.
Those categories include TSI testing units, TSI preparation materials, tuition and fees, textbook/instructional materials, transportation, teacher salaries and stipends, summer programs and facilitator salaries.
Rosena Garcia, director of high school programs for this district, said she will send every high school CFO a copy of the expenditure list to complete digitally and add expenditure categories as needed.
The document says the dual credit task force will use this information to engage in discussion about how to best think about cost sharing for dual credit program improvement and expansion.
Jo Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, reviewed how those listed expenditures are currently being allocated and where those costs could be potentially shared.
Pamela Ansboury, associate vice chancellor of finance and fiscal administration services, presented a slideshow about ways this district receives state funding and ways much of that is allocated to dual credit courses.
The district lost nearly $15 million in waived tuition fees through the dual credit program last year. Fabianke said that number will grow as more students enter the program.
Jose D. Elizondo Jr., CFO of Judson Independent School District, said the state funding for high schools is not too different from how this district is funded aside from tuition expenses.
“Its not in the budget. We are funded for K-12, and dual credit is outside of that,” Elizondo said.
Chris Coxon, chief program officer for Educate Texas, said although dual credit does award college credit, students also can satisfy high school credit so both parties benefit.
Educate Texas, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening public and higher education systems, facilitated six meetings with the task force that investigated access, advising, rigor and, most recently, resources.
“There is a long way to go,” Coxon said, as he opened the meeting explaining why this conversation is important. He presented a chart that measured graduation rates versus college-ready rates in the state.
Although graduation rates are average in the state, the percentage of high school students who are college ready is 54 percent. Coxon said the ideal percent of high school students who are college ready would be 90 percent.
Coxon thinks dual credit funding will be on the table next year at the Capitol because there needs to be support to House Bill 505 that removed the Texas Higher Education Coordinating board’s authority to regulate dual credit programs. He said there is weighted concern about the quality of dual credit programs in this state.
Garcia is also hopeful there will be additional state funding mandated for dual credit expansion.
“You cannot adjust for no preparation, but you can adjust your plans if there is funding,” Garcia said.
Every table in the meeting room was full. About 10 high school CFOs were present in addition to about 40 high school superintendents or other high school administrators.
The expenditure lists are due to Garcia May 16. The dual credit task force will organize that data to be discussed at the next meeting for financial officers to develop a model for dual credit at the end of this month or the beginning of June.
The generated financial model for dual credit will be finalized at the end of July or early August and reported to Independent School Districts boards and Alamo Colleges trustees before changes are finalized in the memorandum of understanding.
The ultimate goal of this district is to confidently announce the expansion of dual credit for students and know that program improvements have been instituted to ensure all students have access and are experiencing success in dual credit programs by fall of next year, Fabianke said.