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Public pressure influenced bond proposal

Editor's Note: This is the first of several stories about the upcoming special election.

Alamo Community College District officials, recovering from a stinging defeat of their previous bond issue proposal, have returned with a new-and-improved version of a $450 million bond that reflects more closely what the community representatives say they want to see in the City's network of community colleges.

In May, the ACCD board of trustees unanimously voted to put the bond issue before the voters after gathering a committee of local citizens to help re-work the bond package.

During the spring ruckus over the bond, Reverend Walter D'heedene of Sacred Heart Church, an active member in COPS/Metro Alliance, told the ACCD board he opposed the bond that would put a nursing school at the Medical Center. Instead, he supported augmenting allied-health training programs at SAC and St. Philip's; since the board has concentrated on that proposal, he supports the bond.

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Robert Ziegler spoke recently to a small band of San Antonio College students about the upcoming $450 million bond issue that would be spent to build a North East campus, and for improvements to existing teaching facilities on the ACCD's four community college campuses. (Photo by Michael Cary)

"It's a good proposal, COPS and Metro Alliance are supporting it," says D'heedene. "`The ACCD board` learned their lesson, and came up with a very good proposal. This is positive for San Antonio and for the different neighborhoods where those institutions are located. We will do our work to get everybody involved and organized to get this bond issue passed."

State Representative Robert Puente (D-San Antonio), who recently joined ACCD officials to endorse the new bond proposal, says he opposed the earlier bond issue for the "fact that they were locating a nursing center in the Medical Center area. It was my contention that it should be in the central city or in the southern part of the city."

Who gets what

This is the proposed funding allocated under the $450 million bond proposal that will go to voters later this month. Early voting begins October 24. Election Day is November 8.

San Antonio College $79 million
St. Philip's College $67.5 million
Palo Alto College $55 million
Northwest Vista College $106 million
A new Northeast Side campus $125 million
District-wide information-technology improvements $17.5 million

If passed, the bond would generate a 3 cent per $100 valuation tax increase on area property owners. The tax increase would amount to about $30 per year on a $100,000 home.

San Antonio College President Robert Ziegler made a pitch for the bond issue to a handful of SAC students last week. (ACCD officials cannot tell students how to vote, but they are allowed to provide information about the bond election.) Ziegler cited figures that put the current enrollment at ACCD campuses at 52,000 students. "In 10 years, that number will be 80,000, and without facilities, we can't possibly accommodate the increased enrollment."

East Side community activist Nettie Hinton worked against the previous bond issue, but vowed to work to bring the bond issue back before voters. "If they had done things logically, we would have been celebrating a victory," she said of the previous election. "The nursing school should be located on the St. Philip's campus where we already have the land and the infrastructure to support it."

Hinton says she has no confidence in the revamped bond issue proposal, as it does not concentrate an allied health careers program on a single campus, namely St. Philip's College. She says the district should have conducted a cost benefit analysis that compares programs on various campuses, opposed to one allied health education program located on one campus. "I'm not supporting this bond, I will vote against it."

By Michael Cary


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