Texas Community Colleges

WTC Campus Update

from the President


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Update 8/8/2021

Welcome Back Faculty and Welcome Everyone to a New School Year!

As I was looking back at last fall’s campus emails, I had commented that “Hopefully next fall we can look back on this time in the Twilight Zone and appreciate it for the peculiar time it is.” Well, it looks like we’re now in Twilight Zone, the Sequel.

Although Governor Abbott’s latest executive order (#38, 7-29-21) prohibits state entities from mandating vaccines or mask wearing, WTC does endorse these efforts to mitigate the spread of the pandemic. I encourage all students, faculty, and staff to get the Covid-19 vaccine if they haven’t done so already, and I also recommend wearing masks indoors in situations where there are large gatherings that make social distancing difficult. In the next couple of weeks, Cogdell will be offering a vaccination clinic on campus to make it as easy as possible for those wanting the vaccine to receive it.

Until we receive recommendations to the contrary from the Texas Higher Ed Coordinating Board, WTC will require individuals who may have been exposed to Covid-19, or who are feeling ill, to self-quarantine for 10 days from the onset of symptoms, or until they get tested. Testing can be done 4 to 5 days after exposure. A negative test will allow students and staff to return to school and work as usual. A positive test will require quarantine for as long as is noted or 10 days from the date of the test. Time off of work will be noted as regular sick time on employee timecards. If you have any questions, Brad Keller, Director of HR, will be happy to answer them. Like all things Covid related, this can change in a heartbeat.

If you haven’t seen the Fall In-Service Schedule that Melanie sent out, there is a link below. This Tuesday, August 10th, our Welcome Back Brunch will be held in the cafeteria (by the windows overlooking the golf course) from 9:00 to 10:00 am, followed by the Opening Session at 10:00 am, also to be held in the cafeteria. (Our Employee Awards Ceremony will be held at a later date.) I look forward to actually seeing everyone in person again!

Unfortunately, we are heading into this semester being hit from all sides financially. I know you all prefer it when I’m totally blunt and straightforward, so here goes. We have three funding streams that enable the college to operate: tuition and fees, state appropriations, and our tax base. Our fall enrollment is significantly lower than last year, let alone before the pandemic, so our tuition and fees are down substantially. In spite of being 1 of 11 colleges that received $1 million in appropriations from the state, we are still down almost $350,000 for this biennium. As for our tax base, if we were to set the same tax rate as last year, (0.2950) we would lose over $1.2 million dollars. Our cap (the highest amount we can set by legislation) is 0.3500. Tomorrow our board will be voting to set the rate at 0.3400, the highest we have ever set. This will still leave us at a deficit of almost $155,873. Yes, I believe we will gradually regain enrollment, the state will hopefully come to its senses and more fairly fund community colleges, and our tax values will increase, but when is anyone’s guess. I know everyone is discouraged that we will not be getting raises again this year, but given our situation, I am doing everything in my power not to eliminate any positions. Please know that I appreciate and value each and every one of our WTC family. Together we will get through this difficult time.

On a similar note, if you see some work being done across campus and wonder why that is possible at this time, it is because we have some unallocated infrastructure monies available that are not eligible to be used for anything besides infrastructure. Similarly, the federal monies available for students and the college are fraught with more strings than Carter has pills. (For those who don’t know what that means, google it ;-) As always, if you have any questions, please just ask. Drop me a note, stop by my office, or give me a call. As I said before, we’re in this together.

Now to end on a brighter note with an encouraging quote attributed to Bill Murray, “Whatever you do, always give 100%. Unless you’re donating blood.”

Barb 

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