In 1985, a Williamson County citizens steering committee led by Barbara Roy, a round Rock resident, obtained over 5,000 signatures, more than minimally required, on petitions asking the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to authorize a local election to create a new community college district. The coordinating board declined to call an election, due largely to waning support in the Texas Legislature for public community colleges; however, the Coordinating Board ruled that the petitions would remain valid until January of 1988. On January 28, 1988, the Coordinating Board voted not to extend the validity of the petitions further, thus effectively killing a new Williamson County college. The Coordinating Board tried to soften the blow by pointing out that Austin Community College and Temple Junior College would adequately meet the educational and training needs of Williamson County if residents voted to join one or the other of the established community college districts
Members of the steering committee reacted negatively to the decision. “Needless to say, our reaction is disappointment,’ Roy declared. She expressed chagrin that bureaucratic authority rather than democratic process was determining the outcome of the community college initiative and resentment that tuition and other fees that Williamson County students would continue to pay for ACC and TJC classes might flow out of Williamson County. Some 2,900 residents of Williamson County attended ACC classes, many of them at Westwood High School, Round Rock High School, Leander High School, and the 620 Oaks facility on Highway 620. Furthermore, plans were being developed for an ACC teaching facility in Leander and a full-service campus in northwest Austin, both close to the Travis/Williamson county lines. Others in Williamson County applauded the Coordinating Board’s decision, noting that a sluggish Central Texas economy would accentuate the tax burden involved in supporting a new Williamson County community college.