Document 14914632

June Minutes
HCCS Home | Board of Trustees
June 24, 1999
The Board of Trustees of the Houston Community College System held a Regular Meeting
on June 24, 1999 at the HCCS Administrative Center, Boardroom, 22 Waugh Drive,
Houston, Texas.
Christopher W. Oliver, Chairman
Abel Davila, Vice Chairman
James R. Murphy, Secretary
Bruce A. Austin
John Fonteno
Herlinda Garcia
W. R. Russell
Carol Smith
M. James Henderson
Ruth Burgos-Sasscer, Chancellor
Sylvia Ramos, President, HCC-Southeast
Jack E. Daniels, President, HCC-Central
Margaret Forde, President, HCC-Northeast
Zachary Hodges, President, HCC-Northwest
R. Mark Tiller, Interim Vice Chancellor, Educational Development
Patricia Williamson, Vice Chancellor, Institutional Development
Joseph Fenninger, Chief Financial Officer
Winston Dahse, Executive Director, Materials Management
Arturo Michel, Bracewell and Patterson
Kim Brooks, Bracewell and Patterson
Jorge Rodriguez, Coastal Securities
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Other administrators, staff, representatives of the news media and interested citizens
Mr. Oliver called the Meeting to order at 4:20 p.m. and declared the Board convened to
consider matters pertaining to the Houston Community College System as listed on the
duly-posted meeting notice.
Mr. Oliver called upon Mr. Austin to offer the prayer and lead the audience in the Pledge
of Allegiance.
The Chancellor welcomed a guest, Ms. Angela Ainsworth, Deputy Chief Executive Officer
of New College, Nottingham, England, an institution of comparable size to the Houston
Community College System.
Motion No. 923 - Mr. Murphy moved to approve the Minutes from the Regular Meeting of
May 27, 1999 and the Special Board Meeting of May 25, 1999. Mrs. Smith seconded the
motion. Motion carried 8-0.
Faculty Recognition Award-Professor Michael Sofranko, a creative writing instructor
in the Department of English at Northwest College, is this month's recipient of the
Chancellor's Medallion for Outstanding Service. Mr. Sofranko has been with the
college system for 13 years and has been recognized for his exceptional teaching,
winning a Teaching Excellence award, a NISOD Teaching award, and a special
award for Innovation and Creativity.
Mr. Oliver gave preface to the Hearing of Citizens and asked if any of the duly registered
speakers were present.
a. Dr. Reynaldo Garay, President, Houston Chapter of TACHE, addressed the Board in
regard to alleged administrative abuse of employees' rights through retaliation,
discrimination, and harassment concerning proper policy adherence and grievance
issues. Dr. Garay stated that the administration was seeking to deny employees
their right to third-party representation. He added that when the administration did
permit such participation, armed HCCS police were present in what Dr. Garay
characterized as an effort to intimidate the employees. Dr. Garay also alleged that
employees were being given excessive duties beyond their job descriptions and
that when the employees complained about this practice, they were subject to
various forms of retaliation. Dr. Garay said that HCCS Human Resources, which
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ought to be protecting employees' rights, was failing to do so, though the
department readily assisted administration in proceeding against employees. Dr.
Garay also noted what he believed to be a lack of training workshops for HCCS
employees to advise them of their rights in initiating the grievance process against
supervisors. Dr. Garay asked the Board to conduct an investigation into the
practices and procedures of the Human Resources Department and to ascertain
why the Chancellor has allowed these practices to continue. He also stated that
TACHE had filed under the Freedom of Information Act a request for information
relating to the number and cost of grievances, including attorneys' fees, since
1997. He concluded by stating that unless the administration's performance in the
area of protecting employee rights improved, TACHE would request the removal of
the Chancellor. Mr. Davila expressed support for Mr. Garay and his concerns,
noting that he was "amazed" that these concerns, which he said were "right on
target," had not been brought forth in this format earlier. Mrs. Garcia asked Dr.
Garay if the employees had sought redress of their concerns through prescribed
procedures, and he indicated that they had done so but had been "stonewalled."
Mrs. Garcia indicated her concern about this issue, noting that she had received
other indications of this sort of problem. She requested that the administration
report back to her to indicate what solutions had been found to these problems.
b. Mr. Carlos Aya, Information Technology Division, addressed the Board concerning
his alleged wrongful termination, citing what he regards as unfair employment
practices, inadequate salary compensation, and intimidation by management when
he attempted to utilize the HCCS grievance process. Mr. Aya asserted that he had
been denied access and equity on the basis of his age and race. Mr. Aya stated that
the administration had disregarded repeated attempts by him to resolve this
matter privately and that instead, he had become the subject of slander. Mr. Davila
asked the Chancellor if it were normal practice for terminated employees to be
escorted by security off the premises and not allowed back, or was that done in
this case because Mr. Aya was Hispanic. Dr. Burgos said this was not done because
Mr. Aya was Hispanic. Mr. Austin expressed concern about the use of security
guards in this manner and said that the Board would need to re-visit this issue. Mr.
Davila also said that an investigation of the Instructional Technology Division, from
the Vice Chancellor on down, was necessary, that too much money was being
spent and that too many people in that division were probably not doing a good job
on policy and procedure. If necessary, he said, the investigation should be an
external one. Mrs. Garcia asked the Chancellor if Mr. Aya had full-time status, and
Dr. Burgos said that he did, that he was on probationary status. Mrs. Garcia said
that she did not want to hear that, that his situation would be discussed in
executive session. She then asked the Chancellor if he had been notified of the
grievance process; as Dr. Burgos started to respond, Mrs. Garcia said she only
wanted a "yes-or-no" answer, and Mr. Oliver told the Chancellor to "just listen."
Mrs. Garcia said that her only concern was that policy compliance was present and
observed that it was the responsibility of the Chairman and the Board to be sure
that policy was not violated in this case.
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c. Mr. Wayne Sitton, Information Technology Division, addressed the Board
concerning his alleged wrongful termination. Mr. Sitton stated that after being
asked to perform substantial additional duties beyond his job description, he
discussed his concerns with the IT management about being exploited and meriting
additional salary compensation. In response, said Mr. Sitton, he experienced
retaliation by management in violation of policy. This harassment, he stated,
continued as he attempted to follow the HCCS grievance process, culminating in his
termination and being escorted by armed guard off HCCS property. Also, said Mr.
Sitton, he was told at that time that he would be subject to arrest if he returned.
Mrs. Garcia asked Mr. Sitton about his employment status and whether he had
sought to undertake the grievance process. She also asked if he had compiled
names of those employees whom he believed had obstructed his efforts at redress.
Mr. Sitton indicated that he had and also possessed evidence of HCCS
administration manipulating data to prejudice his case. Mr. Davila asked if Mr.
Sitton had been written up after he had complained. Mr. Sitton indicated that this
was the case, and that he had never been written up prior to that time. Mr. Davila
said that this was "all he needed to know," that he believed he understood.
d. Felisa Carter, Bursar's Office, addressed the Board on behalf of Carlos Aya,
attesting to his superior job performance and diligence in problem-solving
concerning various computer difficulties in the Bursar's Office. Mr. Davila observed
that Mr. Aya had also done superior work in servicing his computer and that Mr.
Davila did not understand why we were having this problem. He then said that
from working with the administration, he did understand why we were having this
Motion No. 924- Mr. Murphy moved approval of the consent agenda, with the exception
of items A4, B5, B6, B7,C16, D21, which were set aside for further discussion. Ms. Smith
seconded the motion. The motion carried (8-0). The following items were then approved:
I. Instructional Programs
Approved Health Careers Clinical Affiliation Agreements;
Approved 1998-99 State Agreements concerning Adult Literacy Program;
Approved 1998-99 NLA Agreements concerning Adult Literacy Program;
II. Purchasing of Materials and Services
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Approved Payment to Business Information Technology, INC. (BIT) for
Professional Implementation Services for PeopleSoft Human Resources
Management System;
Approved Purchase for the Coleman Building of a Physiology Lab Station;
Approved Purchase for the Coleman Building of an Automated System for
Rapid Identification of Bacteria and Yeast;
Approved Purchase for the Coleman Building of Nuclear Medicine Imaging
Approved Purchase for the Coleman Building of Defibrillators;
Approved Removal and Reinstallation of Existing Pharmacy Casework and
Purchase and Installation of New Casework from Facility Specialties, Inc.;
Approved Renewal of Vending Service Contract with G.L.E. Enterprises, Inc.;
Approved Extension of Delinquent Tax Collection Contract with Linebarger,
Heard, et al.
III. Fiscal Matters
Approved Investment Report for the Month of May, 1999;
Approved Resolution Amending Bank of America, NationsBank, N.A.
Authorized Signatory Representative;
Approved Resolution Providing for the Imposition of an Additional Penalty on
Delinquent Taxes;
Approved Resolution and Ordinance Relating to the Continuation of
Residential Homestead Exemptions
NO. A4
Amended Motion No. 925 - Mr. Davila moved approval of consent agenda item No. 4. Ms.
Smith seconded the motion. After discussion, the motion was amended to stipulate that
the monies taken from the plant fund for this project would be repaid to the fund at the
appropriate time. The amended motion was made by Mr. Fonteno and seconded by Mr.
Murphy. Motion carried 8-0.
Mrs. Garcia asked if the source of the funding was the Plant Fund, or if these funds had
already been appropriated to the Northeast College. Dr. Burgos responded that this
funding had not been designated as a budgeted item; instead, she said, this was a new
proposal that would involve a partnership with the Harris County Jail, where both parties
would make contributions. The college is giving $500,000, as a one-time contribution for
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the build-out, and the Jail is providing a building, parking area, and $900,000. Mr. Austin
suggested to the Chancellor that she should emphasize as selling points in adopting the
item the assets contributed by the Harris County Jail. Mrs. Garcia asked if this issue had
come before the Finance Committee and asked the Chancellor if she were aware of the
Plant Fund balance and the process to be used in approving such projects from the
different funding sources we have available. Dr. Burgos responded that this is an ongoing
partnership with the Jail. Mrs. Garcia said that she was concerned about the process, not
the history of the project. Mrs. Garcia said that when a large amount of money for a
project such as this is requested, the Chancellor should be interested in it, and the
Chancellor, the CFO, and the President should get together and discuss the project. Mrs.
Garcia asked if the Chancellor then just says, "That's fine. $500,000 - let's fund the
project." Mrs. Garcia then asked, "Who decides, if not this Board?" In response, Dr.
Burgos explained that the Executive Team, which includes the Chancellor, the college
presidents, and the chief financial officer, had discussed this proposal. Mrs. Garcia said
that as always, she was only interested in equity, fairness, and process, and she stated
that when a large amount involving the Plant Fund was at issue, the proposal should go
to the Finance Committee. To this, Mr. Oliver replied, "Absolutely." Mr. Austin stated that
he disagreed with giving a grant of the requested funds to Northeast College, but he
suggested that through the inner-service fund the money could be borrowed to pay for
this project and then the money from the Plant Fund could be repaid when project
revenues accrued. Mr. Austin suggested that the proposal should have centered on a loan
of the money to Northeast College from the Plant Fund, a prudent loan because the
proposal indicates that the project generates a positive cash flow. Mr. Oliver said that the
Board members' comments should serve as "some sort of guidance as to how these kind
of items are represented to the Board, so that in the future we don';t have this kind of
lengthy discussion regarding something that should have taken only about two or three
minutes. And I am going to make this incumbent on this administration to do so; if not,
as suggested by Mrs. Garcia, we should handle this through Mr. Russell';s committee."
Mr. Russell made a recommendation to give Northeast College the requested funds with
the understanding that the money be transferred back at the appropriate time.
NO. B5
Motion No. 926-Mr. Murphy moved approval of consent agenda item No 5. Mr. Austin
seconded the motion. After discussion, the motion carried 8-0.
Mrs. Garcia asked if this item had been discussed and recommended at the Legal Affairs
Committee Meeting. Mr. Austin responded that it had been discussed at the meeting but
not recommended.
NO. B6
Motion No. 927 - Mr. Russell moved approval of consent agenda item No 6. Mrs. Garcia
seconded the motion. After discussion, the motion carried 7-1, with Mr. Murphy voting
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Mrs. Garcia asked if there is closure yet to the specific case for which this firm had been
hired and will the issue be discussed in Executive Session. Mr. Michel answered that
closure has not yet been achieved and further discussion of this matter will occur in
Executive Session. Mrs. Garcia said that a timeline for this matter needs to be set by the
administration, that she was not happy that we were moving into the hundreds of
thousands of dollars when this institution has reaffirmed its position of having to marshal
carefully its financial resources. If the administration does not set these standards, she
continued, the case could go on indefinitely. Mr. Murphy inquired if we could hold this
item until after Executive Session. He said he thought Mrs. Garcia had made some
excellent points and that if we were going to discuss our legal strategy, let's defer the
vote until after Executive Session. Mrs. Garcia stated that we would still need to pay the
bill, so we might as well vote now. Mr. Oliver observed that after voting, the Board could
still discuss the matter in Executive session. Mr. Murphy asked what was the point in
discussing it after we've already voted.
NO. B7
Motion No. 928 - Mr. Austin moved approval of consent agenda item No 7. Mrs. Garcia
seconded the motion. After discussion, the motion carried 8-0.
Mrs. Garcia inquired as to the source of funding for the advertising service. Mr. Dahse
noted that Grant Harrison Advertising, L.L.C. has agreed to place and prepare the ads at
no cost to HCCS, relying only on the firm's commission received from advertising
vendors. Mrs. Garcia asked about the process of selection for the firm. Dr. Burgos began
to explain the bidding process. Mrs. Garcia said "it was in place-fine," and Mr. Oliver
stated "That's it!," ending the discussion.
NO. C16
Motion No. 929
This was a revisiting of an item presented at the May 27, 1999, Board Meeting in which
Board members discussed this item and concluded with a vote of 5-1-1 in favor of the
item; however, there was no Motion or Second preliminary to that discussion and vote.
At today's meeting Mr. Murphy moved approval of consent agenda item No 16, and Ms.
Smith seconded the motion. After discussion it was decided to postpone the vote until
after Executive Session. Subsequently, this item was tabled until the July 22, 1999 Board
Mrs. Garcia asked if the source of funding was a bond. Mr. Oliver responded that a
potential source would be a bond, with the amount and the mechanism still
undetermined. Mr. Austin stated that it was never officially declared that the Board was
going for a bond issue and that such a course will require a specific vote of the Board.
Mrs. Garcia said she would not be able to support this request due its lack of equity and
disregard for the completion of projects in under-served areas, such as that of Southeast
College. Discussing the facilities' rankings, Mrs. Garcia said that "I did not participate in
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the numbers game - by choice. Because I know the numbers game." This process, she
said, did not provide impact in areas that had been giving the institution a lot of its funds.
She said she hoped to bring to the Board next month a long-standing plan that put forth
a quite simple development plan for Southeast College. She said her concerns with equity
in this regard were well known by the administration, and she had hoped that these
would have been addressed. She said "let's not talk about "It's up to the Board members"
-- It's up to the administration to study the issue very carefully and make
recommendations to Board members who might not know the history, who might not
want to be aware, who might not want to accept what's needed for this institution." Mr.
Davila said he thought Mrs. Garcia's experiences had made her wiser than he on this
matter - that he had attended the meetings and he believed he "would have benefited
more from not being there." He noted that he had sent a letter to Board members on this
issue and had sent a letter to Senator Mario Gallegos and Representative Rick Noriega to
make sure that they understand that this administration is not sensitive to our
community. He said that he was confident that when the time comes, "there will be
plenty of us that will be proactive against this particular project." Mr. Austin suggested
that the Board postpone voting on this item until after Executive Session. He observed
that after examining the information on the bond issue matter, he sees that an important
caveat is that the proposal needs to "have something for everyone." He told Mr. Murphy,
the Facilities committee chair, that he thought it necessary for the Board members to
discuss this issue "just one more time." Mrs. Garcia said that the inclusion on the list of
the Southeast Library renovation was blatant tokenism and that the money for that
project could have come out of the plant fund. She said that Mr.Davila, as a new Board
member, had voiced concerns, which she dittoed, and had done the best he could under
the circumstances and that his expressions of these were well within the parameters of a
Board member's prerogatives.
NO. D21
Motion No. 930 - Ms. Smith moved approval of consent agenda item No. 21. Mr. Murphy
seconded the motion.
Mrs. Garcia said she wished to meet with the chief financial officer, Dr. Ramos, president
of Southwest College, and the Southeast financial staff concerning this item. She stated
that she is concerned about the current $85 million debt, plus the interest, and its effect
on our students, particularly in the Northeast College and Southeast College sectors,
since we have to repay for the building projects currently being completed. She noted
that the additional $51 million debt payments connected to this item would exacerbate
this problem. She said that we must have a clear idea as to where the money would
come from to pay this debt. Mr. Oliver observed that the Board had already approved the
student revenue bonds at last month's meeting, and Item 21 involves only the official
statement that needs approval. He also pointed out that there had been considerable
discussions in the Finance committee concerning the long-range financial plan and the
issue of raising revenues to address the debt. He said he thought the Board needed to
consider some of the revenue-raising mechanisms the CFO has been presenting. Mr.
Oliver said that in accordance with Mrs. Garcia's request, he would instruct the
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Administration to have Mr. Fenninger meet with Mrs. Garcia at her convenience. Mrs.
Garcia stated that she feels the Board has been rushed concerning the 3100 Main
purchase issue, and she intends when she meets with the CFO to check into who owns
the building, that it raises a lot of red flags with her.
Mr. Davila also requested information regarding the owners of the 3100 Main Building
and the names of those responsible for negotiating on the part of HCCS. He also asked
for a justification for the selection of the underwriting team. Dr. Burgos stated that those
selected had applied first, while several others applied later. She suggested that we
discuss this issue in Executive Session. Mrs. Garcia asked counsel whether Mr. Davila's
concerns should be discussed in Executive Session or whether they could be addressed in
Open Session. Mr. Michel responded that much of the matter could be discussed in Open
session but that one aspect of this subject merited treatment in Executive Session. Mr.
Davila asked the reason for the financial advisor being located in San Antonio rather that
in Houston-was there no one qualified in Houston, he inquired. In response to Mr. Olive's
question, Mr. Michel recommended tabling the vote on this issue until after Executive
Session. Mrs. Garcia said that a response to Mr. Davila's question, if appropriate for Open
Session, should be addressed publicly. She told Mr. Michel that from now on, Board
members are going to be very vigilant about how they are treated in public session,
especially Mr. Davila and her. She said she would depend on Mr. Michel's guidance in this
issue. Mr. Davila asked if the firms listed were the only ones who submitted a proposal,
Dr. Burgos said that there were others, but these were the ones who replied on time. Dr.
Burgos asked Mr. Fenninger to address the matter. Mr. Fenninger noted that Mr. Jorge
Rodriguez, a previous advisor to HCCS on revenue bonds, was present and could answer
Mr. Davila's inquiries. Mr. Davila said that Mr. Fenninger was the CFO for this institution
and that he hoped "he was up to date on the facts, and if he was not, maybe we should
look for someone who could be up to date on the facts." Mr. Fenninger indicated that he
could answer the question - at this point Mr. Davila interrupted and said, "Then you
should" - but that the answer was not something Board members probably want to treat
in Open Session. Mr. Fenninger explained that the agencies listed were agencies that we
had worked with before and that understood some of the unique circumstances that we
have at HCCS. Mr. Davila observed that this was not, therefore, an open process and
asked was it just people we have worked with in the past. Mr. Austin addressed the
counsel, stating that we should not be reaching the argument stage here, that we should
address the issue head on. He stated that the counsel should have clarified the
Professional Services Act and the proper manner in which these services are obtained. Is
a bidding process, for instance, necessary? Secondly, if there is an issue with respect to
some pre-existing matter that we are resolving as a college that is a sensitive issue and
may be a reason why these firms were selected rather than other firms, then the
Chancellor should have informed all the Board members. Mr. Davila asked Mr. Fenninger
if he could provide him with a list of all the firms that applied. Mr. Fenninger stated that
there were three other firms besides those listed, some of which came after the deadline.
Mr. Davila stated that he received several calls from firms that said they applied on time
and that Mr. Fenninger was making false statements that they were not applying on time.
Mr. Fenninger replied, "No, that is not what I said." Mr. Oliver said that we should not get
into this at this time. Mr. Fonteno observed that the Chancellor had said that the firms
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applied after the deadline. Dr. Burgos said that the firms had applied just "under the
wire," but the item had been prepared already. Mr. Davila said that the Chancellor was
now changing her statement. Mr. Oliver observed that in his view once again this matter
was not addressed in the manner it should have been prior to the Board getting this
information. He indicated that he would speak to the administration concerning this for
future reference so that this sort of situation does not arise again. He also requested that
the counsel advise the Board on issues ahead of time rather than waiting to speak up
when the problem arises. Mr. Davila said that as in the case of the architect selection, the
Board should bring in two or three groups of people and choose which one to select. He
said that "this administration has always done and continues to do this type of work
where people are not being included in participating in these types of projects." Mr.
Davila said that Mr. Austin's idea of the administration bringing three or four groups
forward for consideration was a good one, and if the administration cannot quickly do
this, there's a problem with this institution and CFO and administration." Mr. Oliver said
he agreed with that statement because he thought that within thirty days, some work
should have been made toward that process. Mr. Austin observed that one factor that
was causing some of these problems was that the Board had some pre-existing policies
about not showing preference for firms in the jurisdiction but that issues arose when we
did not seem to be treating well the public closest to us. Mrs. Garcia said that leadership
was expected of the Board chair and the Chancellor to see that the larger problems
involved here - the process - be addressed, rather than focusing on the frustration, which
is another issue.
Mrs. Garcia commented that she had not been consulted about the item originally
scheduled to be on this month's agenda concerning a location for the Southeast
College Applied Technology site. Mr. Oliver stated that he agreed with her concerns
and intended to say some things on this topic that he felt should not be expressed
in Open Session. Mr. Austin stated that he believed in protocol in dealing with
Board members and that he had recommended that Mr. Davila be consulted about
this proposal. Mr. Oliver agreed, saying that "if anything comes from District 8, it
should be coming from [Mr. Davila]." Mrs. Garcia commented on Board members'
and the administration's lack of awareness and lack of sensitivity to the needs of
Mr. Davila's and her constituents. Mrs. Garcia stated that an attitude of total
disregard is present when there is a piece of property in the southeast that is being
negotiated and would be acceptable for what we need to do in the future and the
administration instead moves in a different direction, on a whole new tangent. She
said that she was aware of other boards where those in the minority failed to speak
up for and represent their constituents and then others move in and do things that
are very detrimental to those communities. This is the reason, she said, that Mr.
Davila and she continue to emphasize these issues at Board meetings. She said
that this sort of discussion could be avoided if some of the other Board members,
after dialogue, would demonstrate their receptiveness to the concerns that she and
Mr. Davila were expressing. Mrs. Garcia said that there had been three separate
incidents on this agenda that suggest there might be a hidden agenda designed to
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leave out certain communities. If such is not the case, she continued, the burden of
proof is with those who recommend or make decisions at the executive level, not
with Mr. Davila or her. Mr. Davila said that he agreed with Mrs. Garcia's statements
100%. He said he believed this administration is "deceitful, figuring that if maybe
they give me the Milby bus barn, $5 million, that maybe I will support decisions
they've made." He then inquired about the status of the evaluation of the
Chancellor process. Mr. Oliver said that this matter could be addressed in Executive
Financial Activity-Mr. Joseph Fenninger, Chief Financial Officer, presented the
financial activity report for the period ending May 31, 1999, referring to the
Financial Statement, which indicates no change in the budgets. He noted that the
forecast for the year shows improvement as it nears the year's end, and we should
be in a position where revenue is in excess of expenses by approximately $5
million. He cautioned, however, that there is still volatility present because there
are three remaining months to be reported; this is especially a factor with respect
to incoming fees and tuition. The month of July is expected to show a major
increase in revenue due to registration for the fall session, but our reporting cannot
yet be more precise because this is a new process in which we forecast month-bymonth. He reminded the Board that concerning the history of this year's budget the
revenue was originally forecasted to be $130 million. In light of the budgeted
expenses, there was projected a shortage of $2.1 million. The Board authorized a
carry-over of the excess revenues from last year to this year, thereby raising the
revenue to approximately $132 million. In November-December there was reforecasting of the base budget and it was revised to $134 million in operational
funds. During course of the year, the Board authorized expenditures from the plant
funds of approximately $15.5 million. We determined to account for those funds to
show where they were appropriated, and we credited both sides of these P-and-O
statements with $15.5 million added to revenue to make a total of $149 million in
the budget. Mr. Fenninger noted that in order to compare more accurately this
year's fiscal performance with last year's and next year's, these monies need to be
split up so as to show the pure operational budget and a separate accounting for
the non-recurring $15.5 million. This will accomplished in time for next month's
report. Student tuition and fee waiver reflects $2.6 million in the fund balance over
a 4-year period. This is due the fact that there are some state-mandated programs
where the fees are waived. For example, in the Apprenticeship Program there is
approximately $354,000 in waived fees. Where we are year-to-date as of the end
of May concerning this matter is about $1.9 million, and we are coming in on
target. Mrs. Garcia asked about why the ad valorem taxes for the Northwest
College were so low. Mr. Fenninger responded that one-third of Northwest College
students are in-district and two-thirds are not, which would account for the
difference in tax receipts at Northwest as compared to those in relation to other
colleges. Mrs. Garcia stated that we need to be very careful how we handle the
debt service, for instance at the Southeast College in repayment for various
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projects, so that the students are not overburdened by fees. Mr. Fenninger noted
that a particular project coming up with a loss is neither good nor bad in itself;
instead, the institution must evaluate that project and might decide it is a
worthwhile one that merits funding from additional sources. Mrs. Garcia stated that
experts in finance often see such a matter from that perspective but do not always
take into account the likely public reaction when information arises concerning such
Service Learning Presentation-Southwest College-Dr. Larry Gonzalez, Government
instructor at Southwest College, made a presentation to the Board concerning
academic programs underway at HCCS that encourage students to build social
capital by volunteering in their communities and applying classroom learning in the
field in a tangible way. Dr. Gonzalez noted that HCCS administrators several years
ago attended an academy chair conference where noted thinker, Jeremy Rifkin,
spoke of the need for colleges and universities to rethink their traditional methods
of teaching in order to properly prepare our students for the next millennium. Dr.
Sue Cox, President, HCC-Southwest, formed a committee in response which
determined Service Learning would add value to HCCS students, encourage faculty
professionalism, and contribute to the economic development of the surrounding
communities. Over the last 2 years the Service Learning Program has grown from 3
instructors; 7 partner sites, which are non-profit; service, corporate government
agencies; and 18 students to 14 instructors; over 500 students; and more than
105 partnership sites where HCCS students are invited to come in and volunteer.
Dr. Gonzalez offered thanks to the Chancellor and to the Board for their strong
support. Mr. Austin congratulated Dr. Gonzalez on a timely and worthwhile effort.
Legislative Report-Ms. Isabel Nart stated the legislative session that had just ended
had been fairly successful and complimented Mr. Rey Garcia, Executive Director of
the Texas Association of Community Colleges, for working with HCCS on a daily
basis to function as our onsite eyes. Ms. Nart pointed out a constitutional
amendment that had implications for community colleges, which would extend
General Obligation Bonds by the state to continue the Hinson-Hazelwood Loan Act
for another six years. In regard to the formula-funding issue, which our Boardapproved Legislative Agenda addressed, community colleges, while not receiving
the 75% of the formula funding in a movement toward our goal of 100% funding in
5-biennia, did receive 71% of the formula. This represented an increase over the
last biennium, during which we received 68%. Additionally, HCCS received a 3.3%
increase in appropriations for the next biennium. Several bills that we worked on
included approval for HCCS to remain in the driver education business. TASP was
reviewed and discussed; however, the House and Senate were unable to agree on
specific language, and the proposed changes died at the end of the session. Ms.
Nart also noted that the Teacher Retirement System saw an increase in the
multiplier from 2% to 2.2%. Lastly, there a legislative proposal to create an interim
committee, but it didn't pass. However, Lt. Gov. Rick Perry is considering
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appointing a committee in the interim that will look at the whole system of higher
education in Texas and see whether it's postured in the best interests of the state
for the new millennium. It will specifically be looking at demographic changes and
the uses of technology.
Mr. Austin asked if there was procedure by which the Board could communicate to
the Lt. Governor to recommend additional study items in the biennium with respect
to community colleges' involvement in workforce preparation activities that
presently are being generated by organizations such as HGAC. He said that where
educational institutions are acting as contractors, there should probably be, with
these new monies coming down, a greater role of community colleges in focusing
on workforce development. He expressed concern that he doesn't see us proffering
any strategy that would involve us in acquiring these funds before they are
allocated in workforce development activities. Ms. Nart responded that the interim
committee will be in an excellent position to address the concerns Mr. Austin has
raised for the community colleges. Mr. Austin added that we need to have a Boardarticulated policy addressing the need for community colleges to be involved in
workforce development funding within the state.
Mr. Oliver noted that the Facilities Committee has been formally disbanded. He has
appointed Mr. Murphy as the Chairman of the Bond Initiative Committee and Mr.
Austin as the Vice Chairman.
Mr. Oliver has instructed the Administration to give Mr. Austin, Chairman of Legal
Affairs Committee, Mr. Murphy, Chairman of the Bond Initiative Committee, and
Mr. Davila, Chairman of the Capital Improvements Committee, carte blanche, in
order to get these functions accomplished. Mr. Oliver stated that he had made this
clear, both publicly and privately. He said that "the Board should take the lead in
everything that is coming from this institution." He stated that Dr. Burgos has
agreed to do this.
Bond Initiative Committee - Mr. Murphy appointed Chairman and Ms. Austin
appointed Vice Chairman.
Capital Improvements Committee - Mr. Davila submitted his resignation as
chairman of this committee.
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Facilities Committee-Formally disbanded.
Finance Committee - Mr. Russell commented on the presentation from Mr.
Fenninger at the meeting, who included letters from both North Forest and Katy
desiring annexation. He asked for the administration to bring to the Regular June
Board Meeting a report on the relevant demographics and how the addition of
North Forest and Katy would impact each trustee's district. Dr. Burgos sent a letter
to each Board Member that HCCS has contracted with Bickerstaff, et. al. in Austin
to do the demographic study to look at the redistricting. She said the firm was
prepared to come to Houston for a special meeting with the Finance Committee,
probably before the July 22nd Regular Board Meeting. Mr. Davila asked if there was
a finance report on the cost of this study or was the firm told that they could spend
as much as they wanted. Mr. Russell said this was done once before and the cost
was $4000-$5000. He stressed that it is incumbent that this study be done to see
the impact the demographics will have. Mr. Austin expressed his desire that this
annexation issue, which affects his ability to represent his district, should be
handled in an Ad Hoc process where the entire Board considers it-even discussions
preliminary to discussion-because such annexation could have an adverse affect in
terms of dilution issues. Mr. Oliver responded that this concern was the basis for
the request of the demographic study. Mr. Austin further stated that the issue of
annexation is a primary policy issue affecting the representation of every Board
member. He observed that he knew that our Chief Financial Officer is from Katy,
with the Chamber of Commerce, involved very vigorously in it. Also, said Mr.
Austin, he knew that some people in a bond issue campaign would bring up the
question of how many of our senior administrators live outside the district. Mr.
Russell responded that he agreed with Mr. Austin that this was a very important
issue and it was Mr. Russell's recommendation that the Finance Committee bring
the findings back to the entire Board. Mrs. Garcia said she was not made aware of
the selection of Bickerstaff, et. al. to provide the demographic study. She
supported the recommendation that the entire annexation process become a
decision of the entire Board. She said that the firm should be clearly told that there
are parameters concerning this issue, and she told the Chancellor that this was
definitely a Board issue. Mr. Fonteno mentioned that he's raised the issue of
redistricting three or four times, requesting follow-up information from the
administration, and nothing ever happens. Dr. Burgos responded that Ms. Isabel
Nart is working on this situation. Ms. Nart stated she is working with Paul
Bettencourt, County Tax Assessor, who is looking at all boundary maps and
assigning each street address within the boundaries of the system to the proper
trustee districts. From now on, when the poll books are printed, the voters within
each precinct will appear. This is a procedure that has not been done in the past
and is being performed for us at no cost.
Mr. Austin stated that we still have communication problems and told the
Chancellor there are certain issues that are in the province of the policy-making of
the Board and that when one understands that and communicates with the Board
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and gets their shared views about what ought to be done, the Board tends to be a
little more understanding. Dr. Burgos responded, noting that the demographic
study was a directive from the Board. Mr. Austin stated that he doesn't see Katy as
our only solution.
Legal Affairs Committee-Mr. Austin, chair of the committee, reported that during
the meeting, it was agreed that an in-house counsel would not be utilized but that
a compromise on this matter with the administration had been accomplished. In
negotiations with the General Counsel candidate firm, it would be made clear that
the firm's representative must be on site two or three days a week to interface with
HCCS staff. Mr. Austin also indicated that the committee agreed to a two-part
process by which a General Counsel firm would be selected first and then, once
that Counsel was on board, the ancillary counsels, dealing with more specialized
matters, would be selected. Mr. Austin noted that the Legal Affairs Committee,
along with administrative staff, had devised an evaluation sheet dealing with two
criteria, Experience/Qualifications and Technical Expertise. In response to Mr.
Austin's question, Mr. Winston Dahse, Executive Director of Materials Management,
stated that hopefully by the July Board meeting, the approximately 8 firms under
consideration for General Counsel could appear before the Trustees to make
presentations and answer questions. Mr. Oliver suggested that the committee and
administrative staff devise questions that could be posed by Board members, and
both Mr. Austin and Mr. Dahse indicated that this would be done. Mr. Austin also
suggested that the administration acquire information concerning General Counsel
selection from the Association of Governing Boards. Mr. Davila inquired if the
General Counsel candidates would be coming with the components of the other
firms they would utilize for specialized matters or would the candidates simply say
that this issue would be addressed later. In response, Mr. Austin observed that the
degree to which the firm would outreach to other firms was a Board concern and
that the ability of the General Counsel candidates to indicate a plan of action in that
regard would be in line with our desires. Mr. Austin also stated that it would be
important for the Board to consider this issue of ancillary firm selection once they
heard from the General Counsel candidates. He posed the question, if the firm
selected for General Counsel indicates a willingness to select the ancillary firms,
should the Board even be involved in the selection of those firms? Mr. Davila asked
if the committee had considered a breakdown of what the small firms could do,
compared to the large firms, and whether this information could then be conveyed
to the General Counsel firm to aid in its selection process. He then observed that
this was probably a committee issue and that he would attend the next Legal
Affairs meeting. Commenting on Mr. Davila's point, Mr. Dahse said that a possibility
that had been considered was for us to select large and small firms within the
various legal categories, such as real estate law, and then apportion work to them
based on suitability. Mr. Austin concluded by noting that a good aspect of the
interviewing process would be that the General Counsel firms would have the
responsibility of coming up with the specific means of ensuring the best results,
that the Board would not need to work out the detailed solution.
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Mr. Oliver adjourned the meeting to Executive Session at 6:38 p.m., notice having
previously been given, and reiterated by him in accordance with the Open Meetings Law.
He stated that any final action, vote, or decision on any item discussed in Executive
Session would be taken up in Open Session or in a subsequent Public Meeting. Mr. Oliver
reconvened the meeting in Open session at 8:35 p.m. and entertained motions on
pending matters.
Motion No. 931
Mr. Murphy renewed approval of a Preliminary Official Statement on the Issuance of $51
Million HCCS Student Fee Revenue Bonds. Mrs. Smith seconded the motion. Motion
carried 6-2, with Trustees Austin, Fonteno, Murphy, Oliver, Russell, and Smith voting for
the motion, and Trustees Davila and Garcia voting against. Mr. Davila stated that he
believed that the underwriter selection process must be more open and that he thought
we should do business with Houston firms when possible.
Motion No. 932
Mr. Russell moved approval of the Personnel Agenda. Mrs. Smith seconded the motion.
Motion carried 8-0.
The next Regular Board Meeting will be held on Thursday, July 22, 1999, at 4:00 p.m. It
will take place at the Administrative Center Boardroom, at 22 Waugh Drive, Houston,
With no further business before the Board, Mr. Oliver adjourned the Meeting at 8:40.
Minutes Prepared By:
Carolynne Dudley
Administrative Assistant
Board Services
Reviewed, Finalized and Submitted By:
James R. Murphy, Secretary
Minutes Approved as Submitted:
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