We are fully engaged in the fall semester, and our students are back by the thousands. Classrooms are filled, and enrollment is up about 3 percent. Excitement is in the air because we continue to offer new opportunities and experiences to all of our students as they build toward success and their future careers.
In recent weeks, one of those new opportunities was announced by the U.S. Department of Education. DCCCD is one of only eight institutions – and the only community college system – in the country that have been chosen to participate in an innovative program that will help low-income students achieve their dreams.
The program is called Educational Quality through Innovative Partnerships – or EQUIP, and it is offered under the Experimental Sites Initiative.
EQUIP is a new pilot program which is designed to accelerate and evaluate innovation through partnerships between colleges and universities and non-traditional providers of education. The program will equip students with the skills, knowledge, and training they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow.
DCCCD has partnered with StraighterLine, which provides alternative academic credit in fast-growing occupations, and the Council for Higher Education Accreditation, otherwise known as CHEA. CHEA will use its Quality Platform to measure critical student outcomes, including graduation rates, repayment ability and students' cost per credit.
EQUIP also enables our students to take online courses through StraighterLine, which is considered a nontraditional education provider, and to receive Title IV aid if they are eligible.
Through this initiative, students will be able to spend less, borrow less, start classes with less risk, and earn an associate degree online in either business or criminal justice through the new program.
Recently, we celebrated our eight new collegiate academies with the Dallas Independent School District by unveiling the new community and corporate partners who will support and mentor those schools.
They all will become Pathways to Technology – or P-Tech – schools, supported by partners who will be there to advise, mentor, offer internships and help students achieve their goals. Successful P-Tech early college high school students can earn an associate degree or certificate, plus their high school diplomas, and graduate with bright futures.
Seagoville P-Tech Early College High School, which is affiliated with Eastfield College, is the first P-Tech school in the state of Texas. We are proud to be on the cutting edge of this positive trend in K-12 and higher education.
Last week, members of the DCCCD board of trustees passed the 2016-2017 annual operating budget of more than $420 million. This year, we developed a budget book to provide a comprehensive view of our annual budget.
In this budget, employees, taxpayers and students will find good news:
Additionally, we are able to provide salary increases for this fiscal year. Those amounts vary, based on whether an employee is a full-time or adjunct faculty member, staff member or administrator.
You should have received an email last week that included specific information about the approved salary increases.
We also provided some tax relief to homeowners, effective next year. We will increase the exemption amount for people age 65 and older and also for the disabled.
That amount will increase from $50,000 to $69,000, which places us in line with homeowner exemptions provided by Dallas County, Parkland Hospital and the City of Dallas. Taxpayers themselves choose one of those two categories for exemption. They cannot do both. We project this action will impact our budget by about $2.5 million.
Thank you for attending and participating in Conference Day events this year. We offered a one-day program filled with information and activities for all full-time employees; our adjunct faculty also participated in a half-day program on the following day.
Our theme was "Building a Better Student Experience: Every Student. Every Place. Every Time." I hope you each are committed to this "every, every, every" approach.
Our students depend on each of us, every day, to help them find the pathways they can take to successful careers and professional development. Thank you for taking their needs seriously, for helping them – even when they don't know they need it! – and for ensuring they have the resources they need for a successful academic year.
That's the DCCCD Way.
I also want to thank the many of you who have been involved in assisting ITT Tech students who found themselves without a school last week following closings across the country. We are seen as a national leader for our ability to quickly step in and provide a new path of success for these students.
Have a great weekend, and we'll talk again soon.