Tarrant County College District seeks approval for $825M bond

Tarrant County College Chancellor Eugene Giovannini speaks to the Grapevine Rotary Club about the college district's bond election.

Tarrant County College Chancellor Eugene Giovannini speaks to the Grapevine Rotary Club about the college district's bond election.

Image description
Meeting the growth
Image description
Quality improvements
Image description
Campus redevelopments
Image description
Infrastructure improvements
In November, voters will consider an $825 million bond measure for Tarrant County College that will bring renovations and improvements to each of the college’s five campuses and its online school.

This is the first bond election the college has called in 25 years, and at $825 million, this is the largest bond package the college district has ever held, officials said.

The Tarrant County College district is funded by Tarrant County taxpayers. The college offers four types of degrees: associate of arts, associate of arts in teaching, associate of science and associate of applied science. The college also offers occupational and technical programs as well as noncredit courses and continuing education programs.

If voters give the bond the green light, the money would address aging facilities at the Northwest Campus in Fort Worth and the Southeast Campus in Arlington. It would also add technology enhancements and other renovations at all five of the college’s physical campuses, officials said.

“What the college has done since 1992-93 is just regular maintenance,” TCC Chancellor Eugene Giovannini said. “After a while, that builds up.”

Tarrant County College expects to repay the bonds without any increase in the property tax rate, Giovannini said.

“We currently do not have any outstanding debt on prior projects, and in the recent past, all of our capital investments have been pay-as-you-go,” Chief Operating Officer Susan Alanis said in an email.

To pay for the debt from the bond program, the college plans to adjust its cash funding and use some extra resources in its operating budget. The extra resources come from a growing tax base, Alanis said.

The college district has decreased its property tax rate over the last three years, including this year, Giovannini said. In August, the trustees adopted a $0.13017 tax rate per $100 valuation. A home of average value in Tarrant County would thus generate $285 for the college district.

The bond allows the college to get the money for these projects at a lower rate, said Conrad Heede, board president of Tarrant County College District.

“The interest rates right now are low on bonds, so it behooves us now, while the interest rates are at historic lows, that we borrow the money,” he said.

In addition to offering two-year degree programs, the college partners on dual-credit classes with the local school districts, including both Carroll ISD and Grapevine-Colleyville ISD. The district also offers an early college high school for GCISD students.

“Tarrant County College is such a player in our community and the whole county and especially with Grapevine-Colleyville ISD,” GCISD Superintendent Robin Ryan said at an Oct. 2 Rotary Club meeting. “This is a great investment in the future of Tarrant County.”

Serving a community


Tarrant County College was founded in 1965. Its first campus, the South Campus in Fort Worth, expected 800 students, Giovannini said. Instead, more than 4,200 students showed up that first semester. Since then, the college has expanded to five physical campuses and one online campus. Enrollment this past school year was 99,518 students.

Since Tarrant County College’s last bond election, its annual enrollment has increased by more than 45,000 students, according to the district’s website.

The college was created to serve the community, Giovannini said.

“We are not successful unless we respond to [community changes],” he said. “Over the last 50-some years, the college has done a wonderful job of keeping pace with the community and continuing to meet this community’s needs. We’re in a critical time now in terms of this area and its growth and its opportunity.”

When voters approved the college’s fourth bond election in 1992, it was to fund construction of the then-new Southeast Campus in Arlington. The campus was designed to hold 5,000 students. However, it now has close to 12,000 students, Heede said.

The Southeast Campus is second in physical enrollment only to the Northeast Campus in Hurst, which has close to 13,000 students, according to the district’s website.

“The college benefits from a fast-growing region that is increasing the tax base—however, that also means a larger population and business community to serve,” Alanis said in her email.

A ‘critical’ proposition


The college plans to use the money from the bond program for projects that will be spread out over the next 10-15 years, Heede said.

While most people think of brick-and-mortar changes with bond programs, this one will also pay for safety and security measures, such as improving doors and entryways, said Reginald Gates, vice chancellor of communications and external affairs. The bond money will also be used to enhance the overall student experience.

“We’re going to do things to make the campus feel more like a place you want to stay,” Gates said.

Wayfinding signage will be added to each campus to help the college build its brand on being accessible to the community, he said.

Bigger projects will include renovations at the Southeast Campus and Northwest Campus, which will have new buildings added to them to address overcrowding and structural concerns, Heede said.

“It’s critical,” Heede said of the bond package. “We have all of these things that have been building up. We kept pretty good care of our buildings, but with those major construction items, we just thought this was the proper time to call for a bond program that will get us the money in-house now.”

Moving forward


If the bond proposition fails to garner voter approval Nov. 5, the district will have to evaluate its most-needed priorities and continue on a smaller scale, Alanis said.

Should the bond be approved, the design process for the first phase of construction will begin this year and stretch into 2020, according to information on the district’s website. Classroom renovations at Tarrant County College’s Northeast Campus are expected to begin in late 2020 and wrap up in 2022.

Major renovations at the Northwest and Southeast campuses will not begin until closer to 2021 with design work.

The college will also hire a third-party project management group to oversee the bond projects.

“I like to refer to them as owners/representatives of the college and owners/representatives for you as the taxpayers because they’re going to oversee, ensuring that things are done most efficiently and most effectively,” Giovannini said.

The Southlake City Council heard a presentation regarding the Tarrant County College bond package at its Oct. 1 work session. Mayor Laura Hill spoke favorably about the college.

“It really does provide a great service as this metroplex continues and continues to grow,” she said. “It also makes it very affordable for kids that might not have an option to go somewhere to be able to get a great education.”
SHARE THIS STORY


MOST RECENT

A recall affects school buses across the nation. (courtesy Fotolia)
More than 53,000 school buses recalled nationwide, including at Grapevine-Colleyville ISD and Carroll ISD

A manufacturer for school buses has issued a recall on 53,528 buses nationwide due to safety concerns, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recall notice.

The Texas Gun Experience in Grapevine is now open. (courtesy Texas Gun Experience)
New indoor shooting range the Texas Gun Experience now open

The Texas Gun Experience opened at its new facility in October at 1901 S. Main St., Grapevine

Local coffee spots in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake

When looking for a caffeine fix, there are multiple options available in the area.

How to drive a roundabout

The outside lane of the roundabout at North White Chapel Boulevard and Highland Street in Southlake opened in August.

Grapevine Mills features a seasonal Santa’s village that will provide photo sessions with Saint Nick. (Community Impact Newspaper file photo)
4 places to get photos with Santa in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake

With so much to do this holiday season, here are some places where Santa can be easily found to take seasonal family photos.

Southlake’s annual Home for the Holidays event invites residents to witness the lighting of the Christmas tree in Southlake Town Square. (courtesy city of Southlake)
2019 Holiday To-Do List: A performance of 'The Nutcracker,' Christmas nativities and more things to do in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake

‘Tis the season to celebrate cooler weather, enjoy holiday breaks and spend time with family.

Businesses along SH 26 in Colleyville could qualify for an advertising grant from the city. (Miranda Jaimes/Community Impact Newspaper)
Colleyville brings back program to help businesses along SH 26 and nonprofits with Colleyville Gives campaign

Colleyville launched a promotional program to benefit businesses along the SH 26 corridor as construction continues.

Prime Chiropractic has been in business for a year in Southlake. (Courtesy Prime Chiropractic)
Chiropractic office with focus on treating children celebrates anniversary in Southlake

Mary Beth Annas celebrated the first anniversary of her business Prime Chiropractic on Nov. 5.

(Courtesy Dorothy Warda)
Health-conscious shop soon to offer sweets, snacks in Colleyville

DessertsRx is slated to open Nov. 22 at 8300 Precinct Line Road, Ste. 104, Colleyville.

Table Tops is a fundraiser that benefits local nonprofit Unlikely Heroes, which helps child victims of sex slavery. (Courtesy Unlikely Heroes)
An animal experience, a Neil Diamond concert and more: Things to do in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake in November and December

As the holidays arrive, check out our list of things to do this season in Grapevine, Colleyville and Southlake.

Back to top