KILGORE — Students will pay more in tuition and fees to attend Kilgore College this fall, a cash-strapped board of trustees decided Monday night.
College trustees also approved President Brenda Kays' annual evaluation and extended her contract to August 2020.
The new tuition structure raises the per-hour cost for in-district students $5 and $6 for out-of-district students. That increases their respective hourly tuition rates to $73 and $146.
"It's something we take very seriously," Trustee Joe Carrington said in making a recommendation from the board's investment and finance committee.
Carrington blamed the tuition increase on a declining number of credit hours being taken, a factor that determines state aid.
"When community college hours decline, they get a decrease in their appropriation from the state," Carrington said. "For the (2017-19) biennium, we're expecting about $1.5 million less in funding."
Encountered before the meeting, student Zoe O'Steen of Splendora indicated the tuition increases could instead produce less revenue for the college.
"I feel like fewer people are coming into school because the payment is so high," she said.
Austin freshman Madison Darwish agreed, saying many students are attracted to Kilgore College by its relatively reasonable costs.
"I feel as though this college is kind of known for being one of the most affordable in Texas and junior colleges," she said. "And there's kind of been a rate for students who are not financially abundant."
Kilgore student Angel Martinez had an ambiguous criticism of the tuition hike.
"It makes people put a lot more effort into it," he said, referring to students performing well in class. "Because, say, if you don't pass, you're going to have to put more money into it next (semester)."
Kilgore College faces a second budget hit from declining oil and gas property tax revenue.
"We may have another $250,000 hit in the budget year from our tax revenue," Carrington said.
Property owners in seven school districts pay taxes to the college. Students from those districts pay the lower, in-district tuition rate.
Those are the Kilgore, Sabine, Gladewater, White Oak, Leverett's Chapel, Overton and West Rusk County Consolidated ISDs.
Out-of-state students will pay $196 per semester hour.
"If they raise the tuition," said student Kasey Davis of Carrollton, "I'll have to take out more student loans and be even more in student debt."
Surgical tech student Angel Galvan of Kilgore said a tuition hike would just pile on expenses that already are high.
"It definitely does not need to happen," he said. "Because people already are paying out of pocket. If you're in the health-science department, one book costs $300."
To raise $600,000
Backup material for the increase indicates the college anticipates an additional $600,000 revenue to result from the action.
"These resources are needed to expand and enhance our (information technology) infrastructure to support the advancing digital needs of the students and the institution, support the human resource needs of the institution and continue addressing infrastructure improvements that impact student learning, campus safety and community pride," the backup material reads.
The material also says Kilgore College still will have the eighth-lowest in-district rate among junior colleges across the state.
Carrington said the fee increases for students would vary with each program.
"We haven't done that in about two years," he said, adding that welding and some other courses no longer cover the costs of supplies. "(The increase) is going to vary by program because each program has a different cost."
The board was unanimous in approving the fee increases.
Last year's increases
Trustees last raised tuition and fees a year ago.
Their March 2016 action placed an 8 percent hike on in-district tuition and a nearly 4.5 percent rise for out-of-district students enrolling last fall.
Those increases brought the respective tuition costs to $68 per semester hour and $140.
The extension of Kays' contract as the college's chief administrator occurred after a 100-minute closed-door session, which also included private discussion of pending real estate and "legal," the agenda said.
"The board of trustees very pleased with Dr. Kay's performance," Board Chairman Larry Woodfin said before the vote. "We feel like we're right on track."
The board Monday also discussed a draft rule for implementing the state law allowing concealed handguns on Texas college campuses.
The draft policy notes that openly carrying weapons remains illegal on campus except for certified law enforcement officers.
Peace officers must wear their identification as such in a way "easily visible to the public," the draft reads.
The proposal authorizes the carrying of concealed handguns on all but eight campus settings.
Those eight exclusion zones are to be clearly marked.
The exclusion zones are as follows:
- Any premise where a sporting event, "whether an intercollegiate event or not," is occurring
- Areas where public school-sponsored activities are occurring
- Trustee meetings; any facility used for formal hearings
Patient care areas
Any area where firing a gun might cause widespread harm such as chemistry of other classrooms where volatile chemicals are used
Any area already banned by state or other statutes
Any area the college president deems it to be in the public interest to issue a temporary ban.
Kilgore College Police Chief Heath Cariker presented an updated draft to trustees Monday that added five more exclusion zones.
Trustees on Monday also canceled their May 6 board election because no one filed to challenge three incumbents seeking new four-year terms.
Incumbents filing for re-election are Larry Woodfin, representing the North Zone from Gladewater, Scott Andrews in Place 4 representing the South Zone from West Rusk County Consolidated ISD, and Place 6 Trustee Lon Ford representing the Central Zone from Kilgore ISD.