An Eye on ACC
After attempts were made to balance the school's budget on the backs of students by raising tuition and fees retroactively and massively cutting classes, I have decided to conduct a Texas School Performance Review (TSPR) of Austin Community College.
While the administration and board have reconsidered these measures, budget deficits and other fiscal challenges remain. As a founding board member and former president of the ACC Board of Trustees, I continue to have a deep and abiding interest in the success of the college.
Education has always been my number one priority. Although my TSPR staff is already fully committed to conducting 20 reviews of public school districts around the state during this fiscal year, ACC's problems cannot wait for a new round of reviews to begin in the fall.
I have vowed to be the state's "education watchdog," and have accepted the board's invitation, as well as invitations from the Faculty Senate, to conduct the review.
I have instructed my staff to immediately begin the review process, meaning that we could be on site to start the review in early May, with a final report issued in early November.
ACC and all of our community colleges play vitally important roles in the education of our Texas workforce in the 21st Century. We no longer talk about education in terms of K-12, but K-16 and beyond. Today's generation must compete not only with those from New York and California, but Europe and Asia as well.
ACC is not the first institution of higher learning my agency has reviewed. In 1999, TSPR made recommendations that could save El Paso Community College (EPCC) and Texas Southern University (TSU) about $15 million each over a five-year period.
TSPR's reviews of 64 Texas school districts to date have resulted in 5,500 recommendations for a net savings to taxpayers of more than $600 million.
My office did a Special Report last year determining that every dollar invested in our higher education system pumps more than five dollars into our Texas economy. It is a remarkable return on our money for Texans today and a vital stake in the future for successful generations of Texans tomorrow. But we must make sure that not one dollar is wasted.
ACC will be held accountable for every dollar it receives from taxpayers and students.