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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

TCC board members speak up about salary increase from both sides of issue

The TCC board of trustees, which includes (clockwise from top left) Bill Greenhill, Conrad Heede, O.K. Carter, Louise Appleman, Kristin Vandergriff, Robyn Winnett and Gwendolyn Morrison, recently approved the new budget. Photo courtesy DeeDra Parish/The Collegian
The TCC board of trustees, which includes (clockwise from top left) Bill Greenhill, Conrad Heede, O.K. Carter, Louise Appleman, Kristin Vandergriff, Robyn Winnett and Gwendolyn Morrison, recently approved the new budget. Photo courtesy DeeDra Parish/The Collegian

By Kenney Kost/editor-in-chief

The TCC board of trustees, which includes (clockwise from top left) Bill Greenhill, Conrad Heede, O.K. Carter, Louise Appleman, Kristin Vandergriff, Robyn Winnett and Gwendolyn Morrison, recently approved the new budget. Photo courtesy DeeDra Parish/The CollegianOne million dollars separated two board members from the other four when it came to the newly approved budget.

President Louise Appleman said board members should vote how they feel on any issue. She felt like the increase was an investment.

“My personal view is that investing in our people — and that is everybody in the entire district — there is no better place to put our dollar,” she said. “I would rather take the money from a building, not to the detriment of the student, but sometimes investing in our people is the better return on student investment.”

The two members who opposed the increase were secretary O.K. Carter and assistant secretary Conrad Heede. Both said they were pleased with the budget overall but didn’t see the need for that large of an increase.

“TCC’s employees are already among the best paid of the top 10 Texas community colleges, and every dollar spent represents a dollar not available for something else,” Carter said. “To increase salaries while adding an additional 40 employees in what basically is a flat enrollment period did not seem prudent to me and further subtracts from the district’s ability to function as a pay-as-you-go institution for future big projects.”

Vice president Kristin Vandergriff said with the ever-evolving state of the classroom and the new technology entering the classrooms, faculty and staff are being asked to step up in a big way, so the increase is deserved.

“We have funded the infrastructure of TCCD in a robust way,” she said. “Not only are there demands academically with different teaching methods, technology and learning styles, students today have greater needs for services. Therefore, employees have to step up in different and important ways to ensure student success and positive experiences.”

Heede said he felt an increase was deserved to some degree. He said he was in favor of the proposed increase until it reached the 3.5 percent mark.

“I did vote against that extra half-percent, not because I don’t think they deserve to be paid well, but because I think they are paid well,” he said. “The extra half-percent represents an extra million dollars, and I would bet that our leadership could have found great things to do with that.”

Students’ academic and student life experiences depend on their interactions with professors, support staff and all other employees they come into contact with at TCC, Vandergriff said.

“Our employees can make or break a student experience,” she said. “I believe our faculty and staff have stepped up and ought to be validated with a salary increase.”

While the board ultimately voted unanimously to approve the budget, Carter said he questioned a few spending choices. The outsourcing of financial aid calls and verifications to EdFinancial and the contract extension with Sewell Advisory Services, a financial construction-consulting firm, Carter said, are costly services.

“Everybody wants to get a handle on financial aid,” he said. “We want those loans, grants and scholarships to be handled fairly and quickly. It takes enormous supervision. I understand that but am disappointed that we seemed unable to efficiently handle the programs in-house.”

He expressed the same concerns with the Sewell contract saying, “The company does what we want it to do, but it costs a ton, and I don’t see why a lot of it can’t be done in-house.”

One item everyone seems to be happy with is the Alliance Learning Center soon to open at Alliance Airport as part of NW Campus’ aviation program. Heede said items like this help push the district closer to being a national leader in certain fields.

“I would like to see TCC as a leader, not only in aviation, but also in transportation, and this is a step in that direction,” he said. “I feel this is the start of something special for TCC. The impact TCC has on the community is tremendous, and that is a story that needs to be told.”

Carter agreed.

“Students are lucky in that this is really an elite community college by virtually any standard, and the budget supports that status,” he said.

 

 
 
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