Committee approves $3 million for emergency lockdowns
Alamo Colleges is facing potential financial stress, according to a THECB report.
Published: Monday, May 14, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 15, 2012 17:05
The Building, Grounds and Sites Selection Committee voted Tuesday to recommend a $3 million Emergency Management Program that would lock down all buildings in the event of an active shooter.
“Post Virginia Tech, we’ve been asking ourselves for some time, are we ready for the unthinkable active shooter?” Alamo Colleges Police Chief Don Adams said.
The recommendation will be forwarded to the Alamo Colleges board of trustees for consideration at its May 23 meeting.
He said 65 percent of the buildings in the district have building access controls for lockdown, and it would take $3 million to equip the rest.
Adams said all buildings at Northeast Lakeview College can be centrally controlled to lock-down; however, buildings at this college cannot.
“We would have to rely on other employees to help us lock it down because the officers would be tied up doing other things relative to the event. So that puts our people at risk,” he said.
Mike Legg, director of district enterprise risk management, said his department and the district’s police department worked with the vice presidents of college services, campus safety committees, the Texas School Safety Center at Texas State University-San Marcos, San Antonio Office of Emergency Management and peer Texas junior colleges and universities to create an emergency management program for the district.
He said the Texas Education Code 37.108 requires a safety and security audit conducted by Aug. 31 and requires the district have a multi-hazard plan in place.
“That’s what we’re trying to address with this program,” Legg said.
The committee also recommended construction of a five-level parking garage with 748 spaces at Northwest Vista College at a cost of $11,998,865.
In addition, the committee also approved recommending to the board construction of parking Lot 4 at Northeast Lakeview College, which would provide 459 parking spots at a costof $1,169,300.
District 3 trustee Anna Bustamante questioned if Northeast Lakeview College needed more parking spaces.
Dr. Eric Reno, president at Northeast Lakeview College, said while the college has a capacity of 15,000 students, at 6,000 students, parking spaces are maxed out at the beginning of each semester.
The campus of the district’s newest college has 1,903 parking spaces now.
“So that just kind of begs the question what happens when you get to 10,000,” he said.
In other news, after convening in executive sessionfor 47 minutes, the Audit, Budget and Finance Committee learned that the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board listed the Alamo Colleges as one of 12 community college entities in the state facing potential financial stress.
“We believe this is a false reading, and we believe that it does not reflect the deliberate strategic decisions that have been made by this governing body on behalf of the students and our local community,” Pamela Ansboury, associate vice chancellor of finance and fiscal services, said.
The report is issued annually as required by the General Appropriations Act, and the draft report was shared with the 12 institutions on two occasions in March 2012 before its April release.
Diane Snyder, vice chancellor for finance and administration, said the Coordinating Board used metrics that are being calculated like “apples and oranges” because they do not appropriately exclude tax-supported debt.
Debt service on the $450 million capital improvements project the district undertook was approved by voters in 2005 and included in ad valorem taxes assessed annually.
“We provided the feedback,” Snyder said. “Many of our peer colleges were avidly giving feedback also to the Coordinating Board, but they chose not to change anything.”
The board did include five responses from districts, including the Alamo Colleges, which were included verbatim in the final report:
The calculations of the ratios for viability, leverage and debt burden do not appropriately exclude tax-supported debt, causing institutions, which have recently undertaken a large capital improvement program using 20- to 30-year tax-supported debt to present a false “facing potential financial stress” status.
The inclusion of restricted debt in operating ratios creates an apples and oranges situation; which is further evidenced by many of the institutions listed as “facing potential financial stress” having the highest Debt Bond Rating (AAA).
Ansboury said the key metric in the report was the composite financial index, which combines ratios of returns on net assets, operating margin , primary reserve and viability ratio to measure the overall health of an institution.
“The target is that this CFI would be greater than 2. Alamo Colleges is at a 1.28,” she said.
District 5 trustee Roberto Zárate said he is concerned because although the district’s fund balance is healthier than the state’s, the headlines will read “Community colleges in Texas are in trouble.”
Snyder said she would work on how board members could respond to questions if approached by the media.