ACC Board of Trustees March 4 Meeting Recap

The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees held a work session followed by its regular March meeting on Monday, March 4, at Highland Campus. 

Work session highlights:

Budget Study

ACC Finance & Administration Executive Vice Chancellor Neil Vickers presented the timeline for the fiscal year 2025 (FY25) budget process, which kicks off this month.

The board will spend the next several months discussing and taking action on specific topics:

  • April 2024 | Board discusses revenues (including tuition and fees for fall 2024) and board policy changes (if any)
  • May 2024 | Board adopts FY25 tuition rates, discusses technology and capital outlay and new campus expenditures (if any)
  • June 2024 | Board takes action on any board policy changes, discusses compensation and benefits and strategic plan initiatives
  • July 2024 | Board adopts FY25 budget

Vickers also provided Trustees with an overview of the 2024 budget. The $492 million balanced budget saw the majority of its revenue, 68%, from property taxes, 14% from tuition and fees, 14% from state appropriations, and 4% from other sources. The majority of the expenses, 64%, went to salaries and benefits, while 15% went to debt service, 17% to operating costs, and 5% to equipment and technology.

He reviewed some of the factors that may affect the budget:

  • Legislative changes – Since the legislature isn’t in regular session this year, none are expected. However, rules from House Bill 8, the new community college funding model, are still being tweaked by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • Property taxes – Although Austin’s real estate market has cooled, it has remained resilient. Vickers expects the college will exceed our 5% target for annualized property tax base growth. Estimates from local appraisal districts are expected in April.
  • Tuition and fees – The board is expected to review final recommendations for the ACC College Affordability Plan in April 2024. The plan includes the ACC Free Tuition pilot program which would cover the costs of tuition for high seniors and GED students who graduate high school or complete their GED program after July 1, 2023. 
  • Compensation – Annual faculty market study, minimum wage and annual increases.
  • New facilities – No major expansions planned in FY25, several smaller projects (renovations and repairs) are planned but these will not impact operating costs.
  • Technology – Workday Student Implementation, continued build out of Salesforce platform, and completion of Data Hub and State Reporting.

Vickers added that the college has started looking at changing board policy to include free tuition for dependents as an employee benefit. The board will need to vote on any updates to board policy by the June meeting so that it can be reflected in the FY25 budget.

Strategic Plan Timeline and Process

Dr. Mary Harris, Institutional Effectiveness & Grant Development Vice Chancellor, presented an update on ACC’s Strategic Planning process, which started in summer 2022. The process has been extended a couple of times — first, to allow more time for the college to evaluate long-term impacts of the pandemic and identify lasting solutions, and second, to allow the new Chancellor time to review and provide input.

A 24-member Strategic Planning Committee steered the process, which included broad internal and external community engagement. The committee worked with Credo Consulting to develop and collect input on the plan. ACC’s Office of Institutional Research and Analytics analyzed the responses received from engagement efforts and identified 79 themes. The top 10 themes are:

  1. Culture: Belonging, welcoming, inclusive, engaging, linguistic equity
  2. Technology (updated, provided, WIFI, upskilling in)
  3. Communication with students and connecting them to resources (marketing/visibility/website/wayfinding)
  4. Student support: Financial assistance (e.g., tuition, textbooks, printing)
  5. Expand/scale student support resource availability/hours, responsive, provide safety net, remove stigma
  6. Student support: Food on campus (café, vending machines, free snacks)
  7. Student support: Activities, events, clubs, organizations
  8. Student support: Specific groups (e.g., adult learners, LGBTQIA+, new students, SAS)
  9. Work-Study/internship/apprenticeship/mentorship/earn and learn/credit for prior learning/applied experiences/networking
  10. Course modality: Preference for distance learning

The committee is working to align the Strategic Plan with the college’s new theory of change. The new plan is expected to go before the board for a vote at its April 1 meeting.

Board of Trustees meeting highlights

Spring 2024 Financial Report

Vickers provided the board with an update on the college’s spring 2024 financial statements, saying that the current budget is strong. The college is projecting an $18.8 million surplus in net revenues over expenses. Fall and spring enrollments are up 5.7% and 6.6%, respectively,

compared to a budgeted projection of 2% growth. 

ACC District Police Department Reports

ACC Executive Vice Chancellor of Operations & Public Affairs, Dr. Molly Beth Malcolm, and District Police Department (ACCDPD) Chief Lynn Dixon presented Trustees with several reports. 

The Report of Revisions to ACCDPD General Orders in 2023 | The General Orders Report is presented to the Board in March of each year after review by Legal and approval by the Chancellor. 

Racial Profiling Report 2023 | Required by the state, the report includes racial profiling information for stops conducted by ACCDPD last year. 

Police Department Activity Report 2023 | The report lists all arrests by offense, stops, searches, use of force, vehicle pursuits, and complaints handled by the ACCDPD in 2023. 

Training Report: October 2023-February 2024 | This report lists all training completed by the ACCDPD from October 2023-February 2024.

Additionally, Chief Dixon reported that staffing levels have remained constant and that all agencies are facing a difficult hiring environment. In recent months, the ACCDPD promoted three people to sergeant, hired four new officers, and received four resignations, including three retirees and one officer who went to another agency with higher pay. 

The reports can be found in the March 4 meeting agenda.

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