Board passes legislative agenda

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District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate waits to comment on this college’s new student orientation program presentation during the regular board meeting Oct. 18 at the Alamo Colleges Central Texas Technology Center. Zárate congratulated this college for having a 98 percent survey participation rate from family members of incoming freshman during student orientations.  Photo by Brandon A. Edwards

District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate waits to comment on this college’s new student orientation program presentation during the regular board meeting Oct. 18 at the Alamo Colleges Central Texas Technology Center. Zárate congratulated this college for having a 98 percent survey participation rate from family members of incoming freshman during student orientations. Photo by Brandon A. Edwards

Master’s degree for dual credit teachers is one of the priorities. 

By Wally Perez

gperez239@student.alamo.edu

The board of trustees approved the legislative agenda for 2017 during a regular board meeting Tuesday at the Alamo Colleges Central Texas Technology Center in New Braunfels.

The board’s legislative ad hoc committee is composed of District 1 trustee Joe Alderete, District 2 trustee Denver McClendon and District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate.

The committee met with Chancellor Bruce Leslie and Leo Zuniga, associate vice chancellor of communication, Oct. 7 to discuss the agenda for final approval.

According to the approved minute order, the agenda consists of funding, supplemental policies and recommendations.

The funding of $1.8 billion is requested to support the Texas Association of Community Colleges’ legislative agenda.

The funding is spread across core operations, student success and instruction.

Core operations are allotted $75 million, student success is allotted $186.6 million and instruction is allotted $1.57 billion.

Some of the supplemental policies include authority for community colleges to offer baccalaureate programs and a requirement for universities to establish transfer-friendly policies such as adopting the common course numbering system.

Leslie met with Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Tuesday, who seemed to be in favor of baccalaureates at the community college level.

Leslie said his main issues were the baccalaureate programs and the transfer friendly policies.

Four recommendations were approved to move forward to the Legislature.

Zárate said the committee is asking for no additional unfunded mandates, which is an issue that is consistent with other statewide efforts to address the problem.

Another recommendation is to provide the Alamo Colleges a fund of $1 million to focus on developing a model for dual credit/early college high schools/academies that define measures and strategies to ensure quality in these programs.

Zárate said one of the discussions with the delegation in Tarrant County is the need for certified dual credit teachers in high schools.

Because of the shortage of master’s degrees among high school faculty, there’s a need to provide financial support for graduate education for high school faculty or industry experts so they might be certified to teach dual credit courses.

“We talked about a type of loan program so teachers can get those 18 hours to receive a master’s or a flat out grant,” Zárate said.

Zárate said they discussed a type of forgiveness program, where if a teacher stays with a district for five years, the loan or grant would be forgiven.

The last recommendation is to provide a fund of $1 million for equipment/technology, to assist STEM early college programs.

The approved legislative agenda for the 85th Legislature can be viewed at https://v3.boardbook.org/Public/PublicItemDownload.aspx?ik=39536458.

Zárate said a meeting with the Bexar County delegation involved discussing achievements at the Alamo Colleges, then going to each legislator and discussing priorities.

“We went legislator by legislator and asked them eye-to-eye, ‘What are your priorities for the session?’” Zárate said. “One of the revelations was there hadn’t been much thought given to that.”

“It allowed us an opportunity to educate them on what to expect in January,” Zárate said.

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