The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Opinion-Trustees’ extra year saves cash

Sometimes it’s hard to form an opinion because there is no safe bet. The decision on if and when to move board of trustees elections is one such double-edged sword.

The possible move is the result of a new Texas state law that will, in effect, make primary elections straddle TCC elections, tying up election equipment and personnel, leaving TCC and others who used to hold elections in May of odd years out in the cold. The board is considering several options, including renting equipment, moving elections to November of odd-numbered years and, more likely, moving elections to May of even-numbered years.

Board elections are important. Who is elected to the board affects the future of the college district, the quality of education, the expansion of programs and the budget. And these decisions affect lives and wallets everyday. Just look back over the last couple of years. Decisions about TR’s east and main campuses were made by the board of trustees. Thousands of dollars and years of work went into buildings some taxpayers disapproved of. Just a month ago, the board set a new budget including tax and tuition increases that will hit residents and students in the pocket this winter.

So those who don’t keep an eye on the board really should. It’s easy. Just read The Collegian.

But there is not a clear road for election dates.

On one hand, leaving elections where they are or moving them to November would cost money, up to $100,000 more. And spending money is one thing that gets this board into trouble faster than a person can flip channels. So the board wouldn’t want to do that.

Some have voiced concern over the quality of voter turnout. If TCC elections were combined with national elections with more prestige, those who usually take extra care about their trustee choice might be more focused on national elections, leaving less brainpower for TCC matters. Candidates for smaller elections on a big-race ticket are usually chosen by whose name is at the top of the list for that race.

The final option presented to the board, moving to even years, is the most cost-friendly. That’s good. People like saving money.

But, on the other hand, moving to the even years would give board members a one-year extension to their terms. And this could cause an uproar equal to the one over raised costs, particularly since several board members were involved in the TR campuses in such a way as to make some of their constituents eager to replace them. The extension would not be welcome news to these voters.

There is also the concern that the board would be giving themselves another year and another budget to control without having to get permission from voters. State law doesn’t require the board to seek public approval before moving elections or extending terms. The extension could be considered a breach of the understood contract voters and their district’s trustee agreed to.

It’s a complicated decision without a safe side to land on. Either way, that board will end up with dissatisfied people. But the most limited-consequence decision might be to stay with the same board one more year and save money for years to come.

If you want to help board members decide, email your opinion to them through the links on the TCC website.

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