Beginning in January, Austin Community College students will have the opportunity to drop off their children in a child care program at the college’s Highland campus.
ACC will partner with the YMCA of Austin for the pilot program, the first step in the college’s larger plan to expand its child care services.
For a fee of $8, children between the ages 2 to 12 will be able to stay in the child care program for up to two hours. According to James Finck, CEO of YMCA Austin, snacks will be available for children. He expects 35 to 40 children during the program’s opening hours from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
The child care center will be located adjacent to ACC’s Veterans Center at the college’s Highland Campus, located at 6001 Airport Blvd. The two-hour time limit will make the program suited to ACC students coming in for one class or taking a test.
“It is monumental. We’re talking about student success, not only in the classroom. We’re not a social service agency, we’re a community college, but our students need help,” board Chairwoman Barbara Mink said.
According to Mary Beth Malcolm, ACC’s executive vice president of campus operations and public affairs, ACC is also in talks with YMCA Austin about a potential preschool at the Highland campus which would offer certified care for 200-300 children in a 10,000-square-foot building.
Malcolm said the Greater Williamson County YMCA is considering building a new facility on the ACC’s San Gabriel Campus. In 2016, Leander voters approved allocating $18 million to acquire land to build the new YMCA campus.
The YMCA will fund the pilot program at the Highland campus and accept the revenue. Funding options for the future Highland or Williamson campuses were not discussed.
ACC offers financial assistance for child care to students who meet certain requirements. When the board of trustees adopted its annual budget in July, it allocated an additional $200,000 in funds to that childcare assistance program.
ACC tax rate to increase
The board unanimously passed a tax-rate increase to fund the remaining debt issued after ACC district voters passed a taxpayer-funded bond in 2014.
The tax rate will increase from $0.1008 per $100 valuation to $0.1048 per $100 valuation. Since voters passed the bond resolution in 2014, the tax rate has increased 1.06 cents, or $0.0106 per $100 valuation.
Coupled with an increase in property valuations, ACC is projected to bring in 11.8 percent more than last year in tax revenues after the tax rate increase. The median home price in the district is $336,361, according to ACC. A property owner of a median-priced home would pay $352.51 in taxes to the district after the rate increase. Last year, the median homeowner paid $318.81 to ACC.
Since the bond was issued in November 2014, ACC has opened new services at its Elgin, Hays, Round Rock and San Gabriel campuses. In addition, Phase 1 of the Highland campus renovation project is complete and Phase 2 is underway; the Rio Grande campus renovations are under construction; the district has purchased land for a regional workforce center in southeast Travis County and funded renovations and upgrades across its existing campuses.