New district support office waste of needed resources

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Amanda Graef

The district needs to be more pragmatic with its spending.

The Alamo College’s new district support office building is an expensive solution to the district’s scattered and aging support offices.

The building that has been dubbed the “Taj Mahal” by the Alamo Colleges community is a $55 million waste of taxpayer money.

A perfectly adequate space would have cost much less.

The only floor plan currently open to the public shows barren spaces where offices will go, but the only clearly labeled rooms, that aren’t conference rooms, are a green room, haven room and lactation room on the second floor, the office lounges.

What is clearly marked are the outdoor components.

The new building will feature an outdoor amphitheater, an acequia and extensive seating set in-between the two main buildings.

As detailed in the Dec. 7 town hall meeting, the only defined spaces above ground level are restrooms and conference rooms.

The offices look to have been designed with an open floor plan in mind, but the walkthrough video on https://newdso.blog/2018/07/30/new-dso-walkthrough-video/ shows tightly packed cubicles with low partitions.

What’s the plan here?

Open floor plans are a bad idea; once, the design world’s trendiest trend, now they are reported to decrease productivity.

They do not allow for any privacy and inhibit the problem-solving abilities of employees.

The cubicle walls shown in the video of the new DSO building are so low they don’t actually block off anything.

A modicum of privacy promotes employee well-being.

There’s nothing in the floor plan presentation that shows where the chancellor and vice chancellors will be housed, only their departments.

The buildings call center is shown to be between the district’s department of risk management and student success.

There are no walls to create a noise barrier between the departments.

This plan and all of this money was budgeted and approved in 2015.

Nothing said in this editorial can keep the district from spending on these offices.

But we can remind administrators and trustees of the context this spending takes place within.

This college has held back 30 percent of it’s budget in case predicted spring enrollment falls short and the district needs to be reimbursed.

That follows major cuts in the last fiscal year and many other years before that.

State funding continues to be cut while operating expenses are rising.

Instructors are still paid two-thirds their normal pay for teaching lab hours, which is traditionally when instructors do most one-on-one work with students.

It seems “students-first” only applies to college employees, not district support operations.

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