Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Updates on Elections, Budgets, and DISD Collegiate Academies

DCCCD BOARD OF TRUSTEES ELECTIONS

Voters in eastern Dallas County elected new representatives on the DCCCD Board of Trustees in runoff elections on June 18.

In District 3, which covers the northeastern quadrant of Dallas County, including Sachse, Garland, Rowlett, Lake Highlands and other parts of Northeast Dallas, Dorothy Zimmermann was elected over Tommy Reed to succeed Trustee Jerry Prater.

In District 4, which covers the southeastern wedge of Dallas County stretching from Lakewood and parts of East Dallas and Pleasant Grove to Mesquite, Sunnyvale, Seagoville and Balch Springs, Monica Lira Bravo was elected over Martha Jo Talbot to succeed Trustee Bill Metzger.

Lira Bravo and Zimmermann will be sworn into office on June 29.

In May, voters in District 2 elected Phil Ritter over three other candidates to succeed Trustee Bob Ferguson. Ritter was sworn in to office on June 7.

DCCCD BUDGET OUTLOOK

With these three new trustees joining incumbents Charletta Rogers Compton, Diana Flores, Wesley Jameson, and Sonny Williams, according to this Schedule for Tax Rate and Budget Adoption, the Board is expected to set the property tax rates and adopt a budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year on Tuesday, September 6.

As of June, DCCCD Chief Financial Officer John Robertson predicts Dallas County will see a 9-10 percent increase in the Taxable Assessed Value (TAV) of all real property in Dallas. As a result, Robertson plans to recommend Chancellor May ask the Board of Trustees to reduce our tax rate slightly and keep tuition rates the same, while still keeping revenues at a level that supports maintaining instructional and student services. When asked by the DCCFA president why the District would not keep the rate the same and use the resultant budget increase to fund longstanding areas of need, Robertson said that keeping the rate the same as 2015-2016 would put the DCCCD Board of Trustees perilously close to triggering a state law that would allow a rollback election to take place, which could result in a significantly lower tax rate and drastically reduced tax revenues. (More information on rollback rates and elections can be explored in more detail at this link and this link.)

In a meeting with the faculty council on June 3, and again at the Chancellor’s Staff meeting on June 13, Chancellor May said that the projected increased tax revenues - even with a slightly lower tax rate - would allow for employee compensation increases. However, the amount and shape of such compensation increases will depend on the final certified TAV, and the tax rate the Board of Trustees ultimately approves at the September 6 meeting.

TILT, TEXTBOOKS, DISD COLLEGIATE ACADEMIES

The Faculty Council meets monthly with the seven college academic vice presidents and the dean of distance education from the LeCroy Center. The group refers to itself as “The Instructional Leadership Team” (TILT).

The TILT group met Monday, June 20, to discuss an agenda that included the 2016-2017 faculty search timeline and updates on the chancellors faculty fellows, mentors, and pay for performance programs. In addition, numerous faculty have raised concerns about faculty input in curriculum development and faculty primacy in textbook selections related to the DISD Collegiate Academies initiative that is launching numerous Early College High Schools with six of the seven DCCCD colleges. Consequently, TILT also invited Anna Mays, associate vice chancellor, and Patti Burks, faculty representative, to update the group on the Collegiate Academies. Previous updates from Patti Burks were posted on the DCCFA Advance Blog in June and May and April. The TILT group learned that only a small number of courses – to be offered to ninth graders – will be offered in 2016-2017. District officials remain committed to faculty selecting textbooks and other classroom materials throughout the Collegiate Academies partnership. Moreover, faculty in the specific career and technical education programs selected for the partnership increasingly are being involved in determining curriculum and scheduling decisions. The group also identified an area of opportunity for increased communication with, and input from, District discipline committees, particularly those which oversee general education courses within the CTE certificate and degree plans.


The issue of textbook selections has been raised on numerous occasions over the past year. Chancellor May repeatedly has affirmed that he respects the right and responsibility of faculty to select their own textbooks. Additional information about the textbooks issue can be found in this June 2016 post, this June 2016 post, and this October 2015 post on the DCCFA Advance Blog.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Update on DISD Collegiate Academies

The following is an update from Patti Burks on the DISD Collegiate Academies, with additional edits from Anna Mays (noted in blue lettering), sent to the Faculty Council on June 17, 2016:

We just had the June meeting of the DCCCD Steering Committee and the DISD-DCCCD Joint Steering Committee for the DISD Academies, so I thought it might be a good time for an update on what is happening. The students enrolled in the academies for fall are completing a summer bridge program this week.
  • Scheduling:
    • Schedules for 2016-2017 are being finalized. Faculty in the programs affected should have the proposed schedules from the academies in hand and provide feedback to finalize the schedules within the next couple of weeks. 
    • DCCCD dual credit faculty will be following the DCCCD full semester calendar dates. The high schools will provide coverage for the days before and after the DCCCD semester when the high school is in session. The only exception to the DCCCD calendar is the week of Thanksgiving when the high schools are out on break, so no classes will be held that week.
  • Staffing
    • The DCCCD colleges will be responsible for staffing all of the dual credit courses in 2016-2017. No qualified DISD personnel have been identified.
    • Any college who needs to hire adjuncts for Fall 2016 should do so through their local college HR departments. No district-wide search will be conducted (as decided by the college HR directors).
    • If any college needs help with this process, they can contact me (pburks@dcccd.edu) and I will do my best to provide assistance.
  • Classroom Management
    • We are developing a professional development session for dual credit faculty that will cover the following topics:
      • DCCCD responsibilities (syllabus, certification, grades, student drops, FERPA, etc.)
      • DISD responsibilities (attendance, grading, discipline, etc.)
      • Strategies for working with younger students
        • Brain/psychology of teens as it relates to learning
        • Struggles and challenges of younger students
        • Strategies for classroom management and student engagement
    • This training will be open to all DCCCD dual credit instructors – not just DISD academy
    • A half-day training session will be held the afternoon of August 10 or 12 – date and location TBD.
    • We are working with LeCroy to put the training online as well for those who cannot attend or for future semesters.
    • We would like to have a panel of a few experienced instructors who have taught both dual credit and adult college students to discuss challenges and present strategies. Volunteers or suggestions of good candidates would be appreciated!
  • Curriculum
    • For the 9th grade courses, the committee asked that the colleges adopt a common text book for each course. The justification was for cost and time savings since we got a late start and the ordering and payment for books is all being handled through a compiled Dallas ISD order to Follett Bookstore and software vendors for Fall, 2016 dual credit courses at the Dallas ISD Collegiate Academies/high schools (over $50,000).  Dallas ISD will centralize the purchase of textbooks for all Collegiate Academy classes for fall 2016. Since the courses have not been set up in Colleague, textbook adoptions cannot be input in Follett’s online adoption system.  College representatives have submitted their textbook and software requests to the District Office representatives (Doris Rousey and Anna Mays) so that a final list can be compiled and sent to Dallas ISD and Follett before July 1 for ordering and deliver to over 800 students and seven high schools.  This has occurred for most courses.  Faculty should not submit their textbook requests through the normal adoption process directly to the Follett system for Fall, 2016 only since the textbooks and software must be ordered by July 1 to ensure delivery to the high schools before dual credit classes start August 29. 
    • For the 10th grade year (starting in 2017-2018), the committee has expressed a preference for a common textbook for the same course (but not a requirement). I have suggested that they send this request to the relevant curriculum committees in the fall to allow them time to evaluate the reasonableness and feasibility of accommodating their request. 
    • Faculty should know that the DISD is on a 3 year adoption cycle, meaning that we should expect to use the books selected for 3 academic years. 
    • DISD has also asked for our consideration when requiring course materials that use access codes for online components as these are not transferable between students and significantly increase the cost to DISD. 
  • Industry partners
    • Industry partners are being identified for each Collegiate Academy. Each academy will have a primary partner identified and some may also have secondary partners.
    • These industry partners will provide support to the schools in a number of ways including internships in the latter years of the program, but also mentors, speakers, etc. throughout the high school experience.
  • Transfer partnerships
    • Discussions are underway with 8 local universities to form partnerships that would allow students to transfer to the universities and retain the credit they have earned in their AAS degrees (AAS to BAAS pathways). 
Please let me know if you have any questions or concerns. I am on the committee as your advocate, so I am happy to bring our questions and concerns to them and help formulate an acceptable resolution.


Monday, June 13, 2016

Update on Chancellor's Staff meeting of June 13, 2016

Faculty Council President Matt Hinckley reported the following from the June 13, 2016 Chancellor's Staff meeting:

Textbooks:
At today’s Chancellor’s Staff meeting, Dr. May stated that the proposed changes to the textbook delivery model, “will not affect how faculty select their textbooks.” Moreover, he said, “We hire faculty to make textbook decisions. I know faculty go out of their way, including often at their own expense, to get materials to students (who can’t afford to purchase them), but that’s not the job or role of faculty to do so.” Mary Brumbach also said, “This is not about what materials are chosen; this is about how to get the materials that faculty choose to the students as quickly as possible.”

Dr. May in particular is interested in a model that would get a PDF/digital copy of textbooks to students at no cost to them, with options to purchase print on demand rights and/or printed copies if they choose. Dr. May also said that Vital Source and other providers can work with even small boutique academic publishers to convert materials that faculty choose to PDF format.

Board of Trustees:
Runoff election votes will be canvassed on Wednesday, June 29. New board members will be sworn into office immediately and take their seats at the meeting. Dr. May also plans an orientation for the new board members at a date TBD. John Robertson was asked to provide a more detailed budget work session at a date TBD (when the board members are available to attend).

Handguns on Campus:
Dr. May and Rob Wendland are reviewing the latest developments in the campus carry debate. Specifically, State Rep. Abel Herrero, Democratic chair of the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence, has asked Attorney General Ken Paxton to review if public community colleges may be exempt from campus carry because they offer programs for minors, such as Dual Credit and Early College High School. However Paxton rules, the legislature could come under pressure--either from gun rights groups or from concerned parents groups--to modify the law during the January-May 2017 legislative session. Nevertheless, Dr. May said he plans to engage faculty, students, and staff, starting in the Fall 2016 semester, to prepare our colleges to deal with campus carry that. As the law stands right now, we would have to allow CHL holders to carry their handguns on campus starting with the Fall 2017 semester. 


Discussion with the Chancellor about Textbooks

An ongoing conversation has been taking place this year concerning the costs of textbooks, which has become a more pressing issue. At the June 1 Faculty Council Meeting, the Council asked Fred Newbury to attend a meeting, scheduled for Wednesday, June 8, with bookstore and publisher representatives and to report back to the Council.

Dr. Thom Chesney chaired the meeting.  Ken Alfers and Fred Newbury were present representing faculty. All attendees were sent the following introduction and charge prior to the meeting:  

"Pearson Higher Education would like to meet on Wednesday, June 8th, from 10 am. – noon with a small but representative cross-section of DCCCD employees to ideate and discuss a variety of topics including but not limited to student access to and cost of educational resources, e-text environments, “bookstore of the future,” barrier and pathways to student success that are related to course materials, etc. This will be an open, conceptual discussion for which having members of our academic and student affairs, IT, business/finance, and administrative community will help determine any next steps we might take." 

The following is the complete report that Fred Newbury provided to the Faculty Council on June 10, 2016:

We met for nearly two hours with the executive leadership from Follett, Pearson and a relatively new company, Vital Source.  This was not intended to be a meeting where any kind of contractual agreement would result.  Only one publisher was present in an effort to better discuss the rapidly changing elements in publishing and marketing of instructional materials without the inevitable posturing for market share.

The primary focus for the meeting was to look at ways to be sure that students had the materials that were needed at the beginning of each class.  Cost and timely delivery was a major part of the discussion.

THE PROBLEM:  Dr. May started the meeting with an overview of the problems that students face with the beginning of each term.  There was nothing new here--he has discussed all of this with the Faculty Council on many occasions.  Cost is the obvious problem, but he also talked about the study that Dr. Mary Brumbach will be releasing within the next few days about those areas where we seem to lose students as they move through the matriculation process.  There are a number of areas identified--the bookstore is one of those.  The question for this meeting was very direct: how do we equip students to be ready on the first day of class--with course materials in hand?

It was also reported that, for many courses, 40% of our students never buy a textbook.  This is undoubtedly related most to the cost of the materials.   This is troubling, since it will dramatically reduce their chances of being successful. 

Dr. May asserted—as we have heard before—the DCCCD will not intentionally profit from our students.  This is consistent with steps that have already been taken regarding the commissions paid to the bookstore.

The consensus of the group was that colleges need to structure a system within the entire process that will ensure the optimum opportunity for students to be successful.  This certainly includes obtaining course materials in a timely, efficient and cost-effective manner.

In addition to these general concerns, the usual litany of bookstore problems was mentioned:  books not being available at the start of the term; short ordering, wrong titles given to students, prohibitions against giving students direct links to publisher materials, etc.

CURRENT REALITIES

  • Digitally delivered materials have become, or soon will be, the norm.
  • Given the current marketing models, the competition between the bookstore and publisher is inevitable.  It is obvious why the bookstore does not want a direct link to the publisher.
  • The DCCCD wants further discussion about ways to integrate student registration and the book procurement process so that students have no delay in getting the materials needed.
  • The changes that have occurred in the flexibility of our enrollment options which provide an almost year-round semester with many beginning points, has added to the problem.
NEXT STEPS

A dramatically different marketing approach is needed with would still provide incentive for publisher innovation of instructional material and a more efficient link with local bookstores.  Vital Source (one of the participants in the meeting) is a new firm who is working with almost all of the current publishers—as well as the bookstores.  They are largely a consolidator.  They want to be the link between all individual publishers and the bookstores.  Potentially, this means the student can order direct.  For digital products there is no delay in receiving the material.  Print texts can still be made available but there will be some delay in shipping. Much more discussion is needed but this is the type of innovation that needs development.

FACULTY CONCERNS

  • There are, obviously, many considerations that need much more discussion at every level in the DCCCD.  This kind of change potentially represents a dramatic departure from the traditional model that we have followed and could abridge a faculty member’s “right” to determine their own course material.
  • To what extent will textbook costs, or lack thereof, drive student enrollment in courses? Implicit in that question is the increasing pressure to use open educational resources to remove all costs for classroom materials—even to the determent of student learning.
  • There are certainly profound questions about academic freedom in all of this but there is also the question about maximizing the potential for student success.  We would hope for much more discussion with all of our faculty before such important decisions are made.



Tuesday, June 7, 2016

DCCCD provides updated budget outlook, adopts schedule for tax rate hearings

DCCCD Chief Financial Officer John Robertson presented an updated outlook for the 2016-2017 DCCCD budget at the June 7, 2016 work session of the DCCCD Board of Trustees.

DCCCD relies on three funding sources: state appropriations, tuition, and local residential and business property taxes. The Board of Trustees is responsible to set DCCCD tuition and tax rates.

State Appropriations
The DCCCD projects that state support for our District will remain approximately flat for fiscal year 2016-2017.

Tuition
DCCCD has the second lowest tuition rate of all Texas community colleges. When financial aid is considered, DCCCD has the lowest "net tuition" in Texas.

Local Residential and Business Property Taxes
The DCCCD Maintenace and Operations tax rate is in the lowest quartile of all Texas community college taxing jurisdictions.

While the property tax assessment appeal process is not yet completed, meaning that the certified taxable value (TAV) of all real property in Dallas County will not be determined until July 25, as of early June Dallas County projects a 9-10 percent increase in the Taxable Assessed Value of all real property in Dallas.

As a result, District financial services anticipates requesting the Board of Trustees reduce our tax rate slightly and keep tuition rates the same, while still keeping revenues at a level that supports maintaining instructional and student services.

At the June 7 regular meeting, the Board of Trustees adopted this Schedule for Tax Rate and Budget Adoption.

In a meeting with the faculty council on June 3, Chancellor May said that the projected increased revenues - even with a slightly lower tax rate - would allow for employee compensation increases. However, the amount of such compensation increases will depend on the final certified TAV and the tax rate the Board of Trustees ultimately approves at the September 6, 2016 meeting.

Early voting underway in runoff elections in Districts 3 and 4 for DCCCD Board of Trustees



All DCCCD employees and students are encouraged to participate in the runoff elections to fill the two remaining open seats on the DCCCD Board of Trustees. While only voters who live in precincts with runoff contests can vote, those who live elsewhere are encouraged to inform their friends and family who can vote. Early voting runs June 6-14, and Election Day is Saturday, June 18.

In District 3, which covers the northeastern quadrant of Dallas County, including Sachse, Garland, Rowlett, Lake Highlands and other parts of Northeast Dallas, Dorothy Zimmermann and Tommy Reed will compete in a runoff to succeed Trustee Jerry Prater.

In District 4, which covers the southeastern wedge of Dallas County stretching from Lakewood and parts of East Dallas and Pleasant Grove to Mesquite, Sunnyvale, Seagoville and Balch Springs, Monica Lira Bravo and Martha Jo Talbot will compete in a runoff to succeed Trustee Bill Metzger.

For those who wish to vote early, the Dallas County Elections Department has published a PDF document with all of the early voting polling places. You also can see a Google Map of the early voting locations at this link. For early voting polling places, hours vary by day. Those who choose to vote early can do so at any of the early voting polling places.

Those who wish to vote on the June 18 Joint Runoff Election Day should find their precinct at this link, and then use this link to find their June 18 Election Day polling place. Election Day polling places are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on June 18 only.

Voters who live in District 3 or District 4 who have chosen to vote absentee by mail must return their absentee ballot to the Dallas County Elections Department before Saturday, June 18.

DCCFA Faculty Council elects new officers

The Dallas Community College Faculty Association (DCCFA) Faculty Council met June 1 to elect officers and committee chairs for the 2016-2017 academic year. Terms run June 1, 2016 - May 31, 2017. The DCCFA Faculty Council consists of the seven DCCCD college faculty association presidents. The officers for 2016-2017 are:

President: Matt Hinckley (EFC)
Vice-President: Tommy Thompson (CVC)
Secretary: Bill Hammerschlag (BHC)
Treasurer: Shirley Thompson (NLC)

The committee chairs for 2016-2017 are:

Communications: Matt Henry (RLC)
Economic and Faculty Welfare: Tommy Thompson (CVC)
Instructional Goals and Academic Freedom: Margo Silva (MVC)
Membership: Jessie Yearwood (ECC)

The Council also agreed to have Bill Hammerschlag continue as the DCCFA rep on the Distance Education Leadership Team (DELT).

TCCTA: Social Security Bill Advances

HR 711, known as the the Equal Treatment of Public Servants Act, now has 100 cosponsors, with 27 cosponsors from Texas, according to the Texas Retired Teachers Association. The bill is authored by Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Conroe).

The measure would essentially replace the Windfall Elimination Provision of the Social Security law, which presently reduces benefits for public employees who retire from schools that do not participate in the Social Security System, but would otherwise qualify based on previous or supplemental employment with participation in the system.

Visit the TCCTA Blog for the complete article.