Four Trustees Sworn In for Continued Terms on Texarkana College Board

(left to right): George Moore, Place 7; Ernie Cochran, Place 4; Anne Farris, Place 3; and Derrick McGary, Place 1.

 Texarkana, TX– At Texarkana College’s Board of Trustees meeting today, four Trustees were sworn in to office to serve another term. Derrick McGary, Place 1; Anne Farris, Place 3; Ernie Cochran, Place 4; and George Moore, Place 7, all ran unopposed in the election held in November 2018. 

President James Henry Russell said TC has a strong group of leaders serving as Trustees and their dedication to ensuring student success is unwavering.

“The future is bright for TC with the leadership and commitment demonstrated by our entire Board,” Russell said. “They are remarkable advocates for progress, and they make tough decisions to ensure sustainable fiscal strength. The fact that four trustees ran unopposed in the recent November election shows unbelievable community support and confidence for the College Trustees.”

Russell said serving as president over the last seven years has been an honor and a time in his life he will never forget.

“It’s true—there’s no better place to start or start over when it comes to earning a college credential,” Russell said. “But it doesn’t stop there. In my opinion, there’s no better place to serve as an employee or faculty member than at TC. When you ask one of our students what is different about TC, they most often say that it feels like family here. Without a doubt, they are right. The institutional culture of care and support is unmatched. I sure will miss my TC family!”

In other business, Kim Jones, TC’s chief financial officer, reported on the College’s audit for 2017-2018 fiscal year ending August 31, 2018. Jones said the independent audit, conducted by Thomas and Thomas Certified Public Accountants, resulted in a completely clean audit with zero findings.  

The 2017 beginning of the year net position was restated as required by the implementation of GASB 75, Accounting and Financial Reporting for Postemployment Benefits Other than Pensions (OPEB). The mandate requires all public college and school districts to reflect a portion of the state’s unfunded ERS health insurance benefit liability on their financial statements. Texarkana College’s portion is .075 percent of the state’s liability resulting in a cumulative effect of change in accounting principle of approximately $30 million in beginning net position.

“Excluding GASB 75 implementation, audited financial statements reflect a $1 million gain in net assets for both the College and the TC Foundation,” said Jones. “We are very grateful for the mindful management of resources from every entity within the College to assure we remain fiscally stable. We are so pleased that we were able, once again, to add to the net assets during this past fiscal year.”

TC Board President Kyle Davis said the audit report shows campus-wide commitment to maintaining excellence in fiscal management and controls while maintaining a safe and secure learning environment for students.

“When it comes to pulling together as a team to achieve huge goals on a bare-bones budget, the work this group has done with such limited funds and an aging facility are remarkable,” said Davis. “At every turn, faculty and staff are working harder than ever to provide great service to students on very limited resources.”

Davis said over the last seven years, TC has been able to maintain one of the lowest tax rates in the entire state, balance an unstable budget and have clean audits year after year.

“I could not be more proud of the work done by Kim Jones and her staff in maintaining excellent internal financial controls resulting in perfect compliance once again,” said Davis. “Our audit report also shows safe reserves and strong investment performance from the TC Foundation. Thanks goes out to our foundation director, Katie Andrus, for her skillful management of our assets, and of course a big thank you to our amazing donors that are providing wonderful resources for so many in our service area.”

The Trustees also heard an update from President Russell on the proposed plan to address remaining critical deferred maintenance and repairs around campus. Russell said there are still numerous issues that amount to a conservative estimate of $15 million to upgrade and renovate facilities to meet state and federal ADA compliance standards and modernize instructional space. Russell said a team of architects and engineers inspected the campus for necessary maintenance and repairs to determine the scope of needed funds.  The TC Board of Trustees reviewed the detailed report from the architect and engineers at their November meeting. 

“Reports showed the need to completely gut and renovate the former health sciences facility and current biology and chemistry buildings and transform the structures into a new STEM Center,” said Russell. “In addition, there are campus-wide needs to repair parking lots, replace and/or repair HVAC systems, and ensure all facilities meet ADA compliance.”

Russell said it is anticipated that construction projects can be completed over the next four years. Incoming TC President Dr. Jason Smith, TC board members, faculty and staff will begin working with architects and engineers during the spring semester to finalize plans for construction. 

Russell said that by utilizing maintenance tax notes to fund the projects, TC’s tax rate would still remain one of the lowest in East Texas and 20 percent lower than the state’s average.  Texarkana College will utilize a combination of unencumbered general fund reserves and future tax revenue to fund the payback of the notes over a 20-year period.

“The goal of the Texarkana College Board of Trustees and administration is to repay these notes over the next 20 years,” said Russell. “This will have a minimal impact on tax payers and will keep the Texarkana College total tax rate 20 percent below the state average and one of the lowest community college tax rates in East Texas. The needed capital improvements are necessary to meet the College’s top priority for the 2018-20 Strategic Plan of enhancing, upgrading and renovating facilities to maintain a safe and secure learning environment.”

Texarkana College will secure financing for capital improvements through Farmers Bank and Trust which has provided the College with the most advantageous interest rate. Financing documents will reflect the interest rates and other terms that Farmers provided in its November 30, 2018 response to the College’s request for financing proposals.  Board review and approval of these documents is expected in February 2019.

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