Alvin Community College seeks to regain growth

Alvin Community College receives funds from state appropriations, property taxes and grants. Tuition accounts for about a fourth of the total revenue.

Alvin Community College receives funds from state appropriations, property taxes and grants. Tuition accounts for about a fourth of the total revenue.

Image description
Alvin Community College seeks to regain growth
Image description
Alvin Community College seeks to regain growth
Image description
Alvin Community College seeks to regain growth
In fall 2017, Alvin Community College was on track to have record enrollment with a head count of over 5,700.

Then Hurricane Harvey hit. The spring enrollment, which is always lower than the fall, dipped further. Summer enrollment was also down. Fall 2018 enrollment was lower than it was in 2016.

“We still have not recovered from Harvey,” ACC President Christal M. Albrecht said. “The loss in revenue is significant—$1.8 million. With enrollment down, that means less for the next biennium because we’re in a legislative year.”

Not long after the storm, the school lost a $47.5 million bond election—its second such setback in two years. In August, the regents approved borrowing $25 million for critical projects. The tax rate increased to $0.1877 from $0.1807 per $100 valuation.

“This is a finger in the dike,” Albrecht said.

Another bond election is a possibility but has not yet been discussed by the regents. The college is set to begin crafting a new strategic plan in 2020.

Turning a corner
With an effort to renovate and restore its Alvin campus over the next two years, Albrecht said the college has been working toward invigorating its programs and services as well.

“One of the things has been a culture change—being a more data-driven organization,” said Albrecht, who was hired in 2014 as the college’s sixth president in its 70-year history. “We are changing the mindset to be: Let’s look at our data, even when it’s ugly, to make decisions and make improvements.”

The data showed that while enrollment was growing, the number of graduates was not necessarily increasing. So administrators drilled in to identify programs and requirements that were slowing students down, she said.

“We’ve actually restructured our way of thinking. There are eight defined career pathways or meta-majors,” Albrecht said.

That approach, adopted in 2016, is called “guided pathways” and looks at streamlining how courses work together toward a potential major or career field.

While keeping a focus on the 53-year-old campus in Alvin, officials said to reach the college’s entire service area, it needs partnerships, such as Pearland and Alvin ISDs.

ACC has a presence at 15 sites, with classes at the University of Houston-Clear Lake campus in Pearland and Shadow Creek High School, as well as dual-credit programs at seven high schools, four of which are in Pearland.

The college employs advisers at each high school to help with dual-credit programs and with continuing with ACC after graduation, Director of Advising Services Regan Metoyer Peterson said.

“It is a wonderful partnership with our local ISDs to allow for a seamless transition from high school to college,” she said.

In 2018, 152 high school students earned associates degrees along with their high school diplomas—a record for ACC.

“That’s a huge cost savings for parents,” said Johanna McWilliams, president of the Alvin-Manvel Chamber of Commerce, which honored ACC with a lifetime achievement award in February. “We’ve got a gem here available for the whole district.”

Demonstrating value
Albrecht said the college is able to move quickly to provide workforce development and training on new skills, such as two new programs in the next two years: health information management and cybersecurity.

“These are filling high-demand, potentially high-salary jobs,” she said.

As it adds programs and rebuilds enrollment, officials said the college must constantly explain its value and justify potential tax increases down the line. The college gets about one-third of its $45 million budget from property taxes and a quarter from state appropriations, with the rest funded by a mixture of federal and grant funding, according to annual financial reports. While the taxing district covers a large swath of Brazoria County, it does not include the majority of Pearland. Shadow Creek Ranch, which largely falls inside AISD, is part of the district.

The 2017 bond lost by 255 votes, but its 2016 measure—a larger, $88.5 million package that would have built a new campus closer to Pearland—was overwhelmingly disapproved by voters. In each election, fewer than 5,000 ballots were cast. ACC has not had a successful bond election since 2005.

“It’s a small voter base to begin with, and I can understand why anyone would not want a tax increase, but when you look at what ACC adds to the community, and what it does for our workforce, you can see why they could use a new building,” McWilliams said.

In addition to serving workforce demands and offering college credit to high school students, the college also serves prison populations—it was one of the first in the state to do so. It also has a dedicated program called Upward Bound to help students from low-income households and potential first-generation college students get prepared for higher education.

“They don’t just help them get into ACC; they help them get into college anywhere,” McWilliams said. “When you wonder, how do you break the cycle of poverty … they walk alongside these kids to help prepare them for the future.”

When Albrecht talks to the community, she said she routinely asks, “Who here has attended or has a family member who attended ACC?”

“And a majority of hands go up. … They understand personally how the college has benefited them and their families. How fortunate we are—in a community this size, to have this resource, many people would be envious,” Albrecht said.


MOST RECENT

New-case rates are roughly equivalent to those seen in mid-April, according to weekly case count trends reported by the Galveston County Health District. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
COVID-19 hospitalizations, deaths decrease in Galveston County and other updates

Case fatality remains at 1%, and 2,133 cases are active—down significantly from the 3,755 active as of Oct. 1.

Brazoria County reports less than 100 new COVID-19 cases for third consecutive day. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Brazoria County reports less than 100 new COVID-19 cases for third consecutive day

Brazoria County reported 87 new single-day COVID-19 cases on Oct. 15.

Friendswood ISD Superintendent Thad Roher address the attendees. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Southeast Houston superintendents speak on COVID-19 challenges, expansions for 2021-22 school year

Hosted in League City, the panel consisted of the superintendents from Clear Creek ISD, Dickinson ISD, Friendswood ISD, Galveston ISD, Hitchcock ISD, Texas City ISD and Odyssey Academy. 

A conceptual rendering shows what a high-speed rail station in Dallas could look like. A final design on the station has not yet been released. (Courtesy Texas Central)
Reversing course, Texas Supreme Court grants rehearing for high-speed rail eminent domain case

In the Oct. 15 order granting a rehearing, the Supreme Court set a date of Jan. 11 to hear oral arguments.

The amended version of the planned development unit will now go to the Austin Planning Commission for review. (Rendering courtesy Austin Environmental Commission)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: Austin commission OKs development plan near Lady Bird Lake; shopping center coming to Porter and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 15.

Through most of 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic, the majority of apartments were offering some kind of concession as a way to entice renters. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Rising apartment rent continues to be trend in Houston region

​​​​​​​According to data from ApartmentData.com, Houston has seen an average 12.8% rental rate growth in the past year.

The Houston-Harris County Emergency Rental Assistance Program has helped local families avoid eviction during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Courtesy Pixabay)
Harris County evictions trending up as federal moratorium ends

More than 1,200 eviction cases were filed in Harris County the week of Sept. 20—the highest weekly number since before the pandemic.

As the temperature eventually falls across the Pearland and Friendswood area, there are various activities popping up for friends, families and everyone to enjoy. (Courtesy Fotolia)
10 fall-themed events happening across the Pearland, Friendswood area

As the temperature eventually falls across the Pearland and Friendswood area, there are various activities popping up for friends, families and everyone to enjoy.

The Smoking Joint is now open under the umbrella of Click Click Chew virtual food hall in Cypress. (Courtesy Kirsten Gilliam)
CI NATION ROUNDUP: More restaurant, retail space could be coming to north Frisco development; Locatelli’s owners launch virtual food hall in Cypress, and more top news

Take a look at the top five trending stories across all of Community Impact Newspaper’s coverage areas as of Oct. 14.

Alvin ISD offers remote learning for kindergarten through sixth grade. (Courtesy Canva)
Remote learning under way in Alvin ISD and other updates

District leaders reviewed AISD’s virtual academy, career and technical education programming, and campus performance objectives at the Oct. 12 board of trustees meeting.

State law now requires each county to establish an adult sexual assault response team. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Harris County to establish state-mandated sexual abuse response team

State law now requires each county to establish an adult sexual assault response team.