Bastrop is indeed in desperate need of affordable and accessible higher education. Whatever approach Bastrop takes to meet that need is likely to preclude the development of any other higher education alternatives for the foreseeable future. So it is crucial that we ensure that the higher education choice we make now is the best solution we can find.
Presently, former Bastrop Mayor Tom Scott, who has a history of successful lobbying in the interests of specific learning institutions, is leading an aggressive campaign to invite Austin Community College (ACC) to envelope Bastrop ISD taxpayers into the permanent
embracestranglehold of ACC's taxing jurisdiction. While we commend Mr. Scott's efforts to see that something is done about higher education in Bastrop, we would like to see more consideration given to all the viable options.
Some local educational professionals estimate that 80% of Bastrop students are more inclined to pursue trade skills than degreed higher education. Consequently, while this vast majority of Bastrop students would not be served by an ACC campus, if this proposal passes, all Bastrop ISD property taxpayers would be permanently saddled with a fresh burden, beginning amidst the most serious financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Why not invite a trade school to open in Bastrop (no charge to taxpayers), and perhaps simultaneously fund a handsome annual scholarship for deserving students who want to attend ACC or UT in Austin? Then later, if that approach still leaves a gap, ACC will no doubt still consent in future years to tax Bastrop taxpayers in perpetuity in exchange for teaching our high school graduates how to care for baby boomers in nursing facilities.
For these and numerous other reasons, this page offers Bastrop voters an alternative perspective on the ACC proposal. To submit your own content or links for inclusion on this page, please send an email to: NO10QACC@texas.net
|ACC - By The Numbers
||First in a series. Two pages of premier arguments in opposition to inviting Austin Community College (ACC) to envelope Bastrop ISD taxpayers in its taxing jurisdiction. Prints nicely on both sides of a single letter-sized sheet, so feel free to hand some out or just right-click on the link, download the document, and email it to Bastrop voters.
Much more to come.
|TACC Budget Hearing report before Senate Finance
||Since 1980 the State of Texas has steadily reduced funding from community colleges, shifting the slack over to taxpayers. So whatever tax rates ACC charges now are already staged for increase. See a quick chart here.
This budget hearing report by the Texas Association of Community Colleges (TACC), Feb. 4, 2009, shows a dramatic plunge in state funding contributions, expected to drop from 44% of community college's revenue in 2000 to 31% in 2010.
The same report projects that this shortfall is steadily being recovered through increased tax revenue (pg. 6), and shows that ACC's out-of-district tuitions are 60% higher than the state average (pg. 11).
|BCFHE Assumed Name
||Although its name makes it sound like a benevolent society - and implies that opponents are "enemies of higher education" - Bastrop County Friends of Higher Education (BCFHE) is a political campaign headed by former Bastrop Mayor Tom Scott. It might be more aptly named "Friends of ACC," but certainly not "Friends of Bastrop taxpayers."
This document, from the Bastrop County Clerk's office, shows that BCFHE is a non-profit political association created by Tom Scott.
|BISD Abuse Memo
||We have received multiple complaints from BISD staff who request anonymity but object to various tactics used by the BCFHE campaign or BISD personnel. Complaints include political solicitations at faculty functions, undue influence from superiors to sign the ACC petition, and a hostile work environment at BISD for those who oppose or decline to endorse the ACC petition.
This memo documents a culture of misuse of BISD facilities, personnel, materials, and time in support of BCFHE's political campaign for the sake of ACC. It was produced at school during school hours by the Principal's Secretary at Bastrop Intermediate School.
|Bastrop Advertiser story:
||This story earned the front-page headline in the Bastrop Advertiser, Jan. 23, 2010. It opens with a BISD Board of Trustees' resolution supporting BCFHE's campaign to annex BISD's tax district into ACC's tax district. It ends with a lame excuse by BCFHE and ACC for using language in the petition that suggests that the petition is, in part, a product of BISD, which would violate the Texas Elections Code. In between, the BISD tries to distance itself from the petition language, calling it "misleading to the public."
This same issue of the Advertiser featured several letters to the editor in response to a BCFHE letter the previous week, titled, "Tuition benefits outweigh costs." This spate of replies cited one good reason after another for rejecting the ACC annexation attempt. Letters were published from Herb Goldsmith, Chas. Matheson, Sr., G A Lewis, Mike Kelley, Dorothy Landoll, and Norbert L. Simon.
About Election Materials"
|After several days worth of BISD officials fielding questions about misuse of BISD resources to promote the ACC tax district petition, BISD Interim Supt. Roderick Emanuel tried to curtail what seemed to be a rampant culture of using school resources to foster certain political objectives. Emanuel took matters in hand and distributed this "friendly reminder" just one day before the Bastrop Advertiser's story hit residents' front yards. Basically, it cautions BISD employees against using the taxpayer's school system as a political forum.
What about the BISD resolution of Feb. 17, 2009, Mr. Emanuel? How does the Board resolve that political endorsement with taxpayers? According to the Bastrop Advertiser story (above) the BISD Board of Trustees declared,
“The Bastrop Independent School District supports the Bastrop County Friends of Higher Education (BCFHE) goal and initiative with the Austin Community College to establish a college in Bastrop County and to provide enhanced educational and workforce training services for the benefit of residents of Bastrop County.”Detractors claim that this resolution amounts to a political advertisement serving as a promotional announcement to all BISD employees, soliciting their endorsement of the petition.
|"PUBLIC INSTITUTION - PRIVATE AGENDA"
||BCFHE's platform to permanently increase Bastrop property taxes for the sake of ACC is founded on a complaint about the high cost of higher education in central Texas.
Curiously, Tom Scott, originator of BCFHE, was personally and intimately involved in fostering historic increases in University of Texas tuitions in 2003, resulting in the same high tuition costs that he and his group now decry.
"PUBLIC INSTITUTION - PRIVATE AGENDA, The University of Texas System's Campaign for Tuition Deregulation," is an April 2004 report prepared by a student organization, UT Watch. It documents how Tom Scott, ramrod of the ACC tax district annexation proposal, worked as a Vice Chancellor of Governmental Relations at UT, successfully lobbying Texas legislators to relinquish control of tuitions to UT's Board of Regents in 2003.
Furthermore, the report suggests that Scott's lobbying activities while he was employed by UT were a violation of the spirit, if not the letter of Texas law which intends to prohibit state offices from soliciting legislators on behalf of any political objectives.
This Web site is compiled and maintained by volunteer cooperation among growing numbers of Bastrop residents, taxpayers and voters who prefer a complete and independent study of all the higher education options for Bastrop before placing anything on the ballot for voters' approval. email: NO10QACC@texas.net