Good afternoon! The spring semester sped by for all of us, and it's time to take a few minutes to catch up on the latest news.
We all are aware of the tragic event that unfolded at North Lake College on May 3. Violence on college campuses happens all too frequently today.
Such a senseless death is difficult to deal with. I hope that anyone who needs to talk to a counselor knows that those services continue to be available.
I want to thank our first responders, faculty and staff for their immediate response when seconds literally counted.
We all heard, during interviews with the news media and on campus, our students and employees repeatedly talk about the training they received each semester.
They discussed how they were trained to respond during a lockdown and what to do when the report of an active shooter is issued.
That training is invaluable. And that training must continue at every college in the DCCCD system so that we are prepared for the unthinkable.
I want to thank Dr. Christa Slejko for her leadership during this time, and for all of the work that staff members did in response to the situation. And I want to thank everyone who has honored Janeera Gonzalez' memory -- especially those who attended the vigil on campus two weeks ago.
Now let's talk about the Texas Legislature, which is moving toward the final days of this session. Bills must be passed in a matter of days, including several that DCCCD has supported.
The Texas House and Senate budget conference committee has completed its work, so the final budget is near. In its current form, the portion of the budget allocated to community colleges means a small increase for DCCCD.
SB 2118, which includes language so that we can offer a baccalaureate in early childhood education, was passed by the House last Friday. SB 2118 will allow community colleges to offer quality, affordable bachelor's degrees in applied science, applied technology, and nursing.
The bill contains an amendment by Sen. Royce West, a member of the Dallas delegation, which includes early childhood language; it also provides legislative intent to offer a BAS in early childhood education.
Three amendments were added, so SB 2118 isn't a "done deal" yet, but its chances of final passage look good.
Recruit Texas, or HB 108, which would allow community colleges to be a part of economic development efforts to bring new businesses to Texas, passed the Senate on Tuesday and is now headed to the Governor's desk.
As you have read or watched on television, the legislature has been focused on much-debated bathroom and sanctuary cities bills, both of which passed in altered versions.
We will continue to work with legislators on those bills that support students, workforce development and economic development.
Whether or not the legislature will hold a special session remains to be seen.
We do have some recent good news from Washington, where Congress is restoring funding for year-round Pell Grants. That action will be a huge benefit to our students, as well as completion and graduation rates over time.
We are still reviewing the President's budget proposal which would make cuts in higher education, from student loan forgiveness and Perkins grants to a number of other areas, including CTE job training.
Closer to home, our board members heard the first reading of the district's proposed concealed carry policy during their monthly meeting on May 2. The new policy must be approved and in place to implement on Aug. 1 of this year.
Trustees will again discuss the proposed policy in the Education and Workforce Committee on June 6, and then formally consider it during their regular meeting.
I want to thank everyone who answered a survey, attended a forum, and provided their opinions so that this policy could move forward.
Last -- but never least -- we all celebrated graduation ceremonies earlier this month. Commencement is my favorite time of year because it confirms that we are fulfilling our mission: to transform lives and communities through higher education.
Congratulations to our graduates and their families -- a support system of people who are critical to their success.
You are part of that support system, too, in every way. Thank you for supporting our students as they take that journey to a degree or certificate; to new careers; and to success in their communities.
Have a great weekend, and we'll talk again soon.