The Austin Community College District (ACC) Board of Trustees held a work session followed by its regular March meeting on Monday, May 6, at Highland Campus. 

Work session highlights

Child Care Discussion
Trustees continued their discussion on child care. Cara Crowley, ACC’s new Special Advisor to the Chancellor for Basic Needs Systems, was invited to join the board and cabinet at the work session. 

Dr. Chris Cervini, ACC Community and Public Affairs vice chancellor, informed trustees that the college has become more deeply engaged with community partners about child care, with a broader community conversation on the topic awaiting funding considerations from some of the intergovernmental partners in the region.

“Our hope is that we’ll have some direction from our intergovernmental partners within the next three weeks or so about whether or not there’s going to be an effort to put more money into the child care system. The results of that conversation is very much going to shape what our community conversation is about how ACC fits into the broader community child care ecosystem,” says Cervini.

ACC Student Affairs Vice Chancellor Dr. Shasta Buchanan says they are working to resolve gaps in our operations and processes for child care scholarships in the short term that will make the most impact to support parenting students. The college doesn’t want to get too far ahead of the design teams related to the Theory of Change/Strategic Plan that will be activated soon. 

The child care scholarships work has consisted of mapping out the process of the current state and providing recommendations on how to improve existing operations to continue to support students receiving child care scholarships. In order to map out the current state of operations for child care scholarships, the team reviews the entire parenting student experience and journey to access and receive funds, along with additional wraparound supports to help students complete their college journey at ACC. She said they are also working with the Office of Institutional Research & Analytics to identify parenting students who may need child care support.

She added that student advocates are the new parenting student liaisons on each campus per state legislation that was recently enacted

More Financial Support for Current Students

Last month, after approving the Free Tuition Pilot Program for the class of 2024, trustees asked what they could do to help current students complete their degrees. The college presented two initial ideas to the board at the work session. During the session, several students addressed the board and administration to share their experiences. The college will use that feedback as it continues to evaluate options. A formal proposal will be presented to trustees in June.

Board of Trustees meeting highlights

Free Tuition for ACC Employee Dependents
Child dependents of benefits-eligible ACC employees—including full-time faculty and staff and adjunct faculty—may soon be allowed to take classes tuition-free after trustees unanimously adopted an amendment to board policy. The new employee benefit will be added as part of the 2024-25 budget process and will be effective starting with the fall 2024 semester. More details are still to be determined.

Lockhart ISD Territory Annexation Petition
District trustees unanimously approved an annexation petition from residents living within the territory covered by Lockhart ISD (LISD). These residents could see an ACC annexation item on their ballot this November. 

The board reviewed the proposed service plan for LISD, which includes three phases of potential facility development in the community. Trustees will host a public hearing on Tuesday, June 25, 2024, at the Lockhart Independent School District Performing Arts Center for residents in the LISD area. Learn more here

Direct-to-College Student Success Metrics 
Dr. Jenna Cullinane Hege, ACC Institutional Research & Analytics vice chancellor, presented trustees with data on previous service area direct-to-college (DTC) students and what the college has learned that will help build out the free tuition program on a larger scale. DTC students are the first pilot cohort for the college’s new Free Tuition program. 

Some of the highlights from the presentation include:

  • While DTC student enrollment has increased over the last two years, it still hasn’t fully recovered since the pandemic.
  • DTC students enroll full-time at higher rates than ACC students overall.
  • DTC students have higher rates of persistence after one semester and after one year compared to non-DTC students.
  • However, DTC students have slightly lower rates of course success than non-DTC students.
  • Within three years of starting at ACC, 47% of DTC students graduated or transferred, which is one percentage point higher than the general first-time-in-college student population.

Other Items

Additionally, Nonprofit Austin at ACC donated a check for $43,413.62 to the ACC Foundation Student Success Fund. Trustees also heard an update on the proposed 2024-25 budget, approved the 2024-2029 Strategic Plan presented during the April work session, and allowed the college to move forward with contract negotiations for the renewal of the data center lease in South Austin and annual instructional audio-visual equipment upgrades. 

View all agendas and recordings from the meeting here. Recordings are usually available by the Thursday following the meeting.