Board approves location of district support office building, reviews online course orientation.
By Wally Perez
Alamo Colleges Chancellor Bruce Leslie will receive a 6 percent pay raise as part of his employment contract renewal, trustees decided last week.
Under his new contract, Leslie’s salary will be $403,123, up from $380,305.
His updated salary takes effect Sept. 1 and ends Aug. 31, 2019.
Trustees authorized board Chair Yvonne Katz to execute his contract Aug. 16 during the monthly meeting in Killen. District 3 trustee Anna Bustamante and District 8 trustee Clint Kingsbery voted against it.
Katz, District 7 trustee, and District 2 trustee Denver McClendon signed the contract Aug. 17.
A $500 increase was added to Leslie’s monthly automobile allowance, which was raised to $1,500 from $1,000, and his monthly cell phone allowance was increased to $166 from $60.
Despite the district’s press for transparency, details regarding the contract weren’t made available at the Tuesday meeting even after approval.
Katz said she couldn’t disclose details of the contract at that time.
The Ranger received a copy of the contract this morning from Mario Muniz, district director of public relations.
During the Building, Grounds and Sites Selection portion of the meeting, trustees approved a concept rendering and master plan for the district support office building, at 2222 N. Alamo St.
The board reviewed two proposals during the Building, Grounds and Sites Committee meeting Aug. 9.
Trustees had the week until the Aug. 16 board meeting to make a decision.
During the meeting Aug. 9 most trustees leaned toward Option B, which they ultimately approved.
Option B made the center of the site its main focus for the buildings, while Option A made use of the north and center areas of the site.
Leslie reminded the board that this is only for the placement of the building, not the design or where anyone’s office is going to be yet.
“This is about respecting the committees’ recommendation to give space that would meet some of the interests of the neighborhood and the historical respect for the acequia and green space on the site,” Leslie said.
The actual design of the building and parking lot will be the next steps, Leslie said.
Before approval, the board discussed both options again because some board members pushed for Option A.
John Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities, said the revisions are from comments made by the board, the citizens advisory committee, the community and faculty during previous meetings.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate voiced concern about whether the board will be within the budget now that a plan has been selected.
Styrbos said they can expect detailed estimates by October.
District 1 trustee Joe Alderete suggested having Alamo Colleges students participate in the artistic contributions to the site by giving architecture students the opportunity to design and create for the site. Strybos agreed, saying it’s a real possibility.
District 9 trustee Jim Rindfuss wondered whether Option B served employees the best and how would they know if it was the right choice. He asked if any study has determined how each plan will serve the different divisions.
Leslie said the answer to that question comes in about two months, adding it’s a bit premature to answer that at this point.
“Everyone wants to know, ‘Where’s their office?’ and we’re just not at that point yet,” Strybos said.
The board voted unanimously for Option B after last-minute discussion.
In other business, Dr. Mike Flores, president of Palo Alto College, and Super Senate President Lisa Black, updated the faculty decision-making model.
“This is over a year-long conversation,” Flores said.
Flores said a year ago at this time the focus was on how to create a decision-making process that would engage faculty.
Flores said an Aug. 12 retreat, which focused on culture, was held for the executive faculty council, which includes each of the college senate presidents from the five Alamo Colleges.
Black said conversation revolved around how those involved wanted to be treated among one another.
The presidents and vice chancellors council (PVC) selected administrative representation that would be linked to the decision-making model, which includes Flores, Jothany Blackwood, vice president of academic success, and Debbie Gaitan, vice president of student success at Northwest Vista College.
Black said a faculty position will support setting up the model and helping it get started. He or she will report to Jo Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor of academic success.
“We don’t make it a bylaw document that we never come back to; we know it’s not going to be perfect in the beginning, but we want to make sure we don’t just put it on a shelf and forget about it,” Black said.
In other business, Northeast Lakeview College highlighted its ORLN-0001, orientation to online learning, during the program highlights portion of the meeting.
The course takes 90 minutes to complete online or face-to-face and the content includes characteristics of the successful online student, active learning, and allows students to practice using Canvas.
The course is constituted as a mini-course that yields zero credit, but is free.
Tracey Mendoza, dean of learning resources at NLC, said the number of students who take online courses has increased dramatically over the last 10 years.
Mendoza said national trends indicate students in online courses typically do 8 percent worse than students in face-to-face classes.
“The instructional technology council listed the No. 1 concern of distance learning administrators as the online orientation and preparedness of students in online courses,” Mendoza said.
In an NLC survey based on 428 OLRN students’ responses over the course of spring 2013-spring 2016, 91.7 percent of participants said the course was helpful in understanding online courses.
According to data collected by NLC, 87.7 percent said they were able to get a good sense of the characteristics of a successful online student from OLRN.
Mendoza said the 8.3 percent of students who found the course not helpful already had an understanding of online course navigation.
NLC tracked the success of fall 2015 OLRN students by looking into the success of the student’s first online class after completion of the 90-minute course.
Mendoza said 71 percent of 192 students who met success in OLRN in fall 2015, which is 85 percent or better, averaged an A, B or C in their first online class.
McClendon said the class should be a requirement, as the documentation shows that it’s a successful approach.
Mendoza said the course is not a prerequisite to an online course, but it’s recommended. She said it’s something students can take before the semester starts.
“This is the best 90 minutes any student can spend if they’re going to take an online course,” Rindfuss said.
Rindfuss asked if the trustees could try the course themselves to get an idea of how it works. Mendoza said she would email the link to the trustees.