Board votes on tuition for prison classes, employee compensation

By Lauren Ebben/ Editor-in-Chief

At the monthly board meeting Jan. 28, Amarillo College regents approved reduced tuition and fees for inmates attending AC classes for a diesel technician program in the Clements Unit. The negotiated tuition cost for this program is about $88.20 per contact hour.

Linda Muñoz, the dean of technical education, said these education classes are offered to inmates who are eligible for parole in two years or less, and will lead to AAS programs once these inmates are released.

“Eventually we would all love to see that there are full AAS program there. Right now, we’re just starting with this one program and building other programs,” she said.

Additionally, the board voted to approve a compensation payment to AC employees. This comes with the decision to move the start of performance evaluation season from February 2020 to October 2020. 

According Paul Proffer, chair of the board, officials believe this shift was the best “financially responsible way” to ensure the college could budget for merit pay for employees in the fiscal year, which begins in September.

AC Russell Lowery-Hart said this allows the college to give raises based on actual budget numbers, instead of projected student enrollment numbers. 

“If we had known the actual numbers in August the college might have given employees a 3 percent raise, rather than a two percent raise because we didn’t know what enrollment would actually look like. On the flip side, when we had projected enrollment being up and it was down, we put the college financially at risk because we over projected,” he said.

During this transition year, employees who would normally receive a merit based raise in September 2020 will instead receive that raise on Jan. 1, 2021. To compensate for the push back, the college is providing employees with a one-time payment on or around March 1. 

Full-time employees will receive a $1250 payment. Part-time employees will receive a $500 payment. A total of $1,063,000 will be taken from budget reserves to pay this amount.

Other items the board discussed included the approval of tenure recommendations for two faculty members, affirmation of non-discrimination statement, records managment annual report, approval of a contact with the marketing agency SWIM Digital, approval of investment report, approval of finacal reports, a request of qualification statements for a master plan program manager and requests for qualification statements for the Innovation Hub.

Board meetings are open to attend by the public. The next meeting will be held at 6:45 p.m. Feb. 5 in the Palo Duro Room, located on the second floor of the College Union Building on the Washington Street campus.

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