By Justin M. Rodriguez
Pulse Staff Reporter
Voters elected two new officials and a student member was appointed to the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees after a run-off election in June 2014 for Districts 4 and 8, respectively.
“Oftentimes, people feel we are losing the academic side in pursuit of building up the training and certificates,” said Clint Kingsbery, District 8 trustee. “My goal is to ensure that the Alamo Colleges are viewed as both a great place for training but also as a stepping stone for the four-year degree…”
Kingsbery, a graduate of University of Texas at San Antonio, has a bachelor’s degree in Math. He teaches at Rudder Middle School, part of the North Side Independent School District.
“I would like to expand on current business programs, but not at the cost of academia,” said Kingsbery.
Kingsbery’s primary goals involve representing the constituents of his district and making progress at each of the five colleges, provided that the programs benefit students.
Jacob Wong, the first student member of the Alamo Colleges Board of Trustees, brings a student perspective to the table. Wong allows the student voice to be heard by speaking on behalf of the student body. Wong, a Psychology major, will graduate from San Antonio College in May 2015.
A current hot topic before the board is a new push for generic degrees.
“I don’t know anybody who’s okay with it [the degree classification change],” Wong said.
The solution to this, said Wong, is determining who makes such decisions and making sure we’re addressing them. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board ensures affordability, access and quality across the state’s public higher education institutions.
Without a student member, the board, which typically discusses concerns and issues relative to the student, would be executing actions they perceive to be best, Wong said.
Students express their concerns through Wong because he interacts with students at each campus regularly. He can be reached by email.
Students at the Alamo Colleges, Palo Alto in particular, notify Wong of meetings and rallies in regard to current events at the college that equip him for future decisions he will make relative to student success.
“Not everybody is going down the same path to success. Somebody is going to choose something different, and you have to accommodate them,” Wong said.
The community colleges were recently required by the THECB to limit the amount of hours in the associate’s degree plan to 60 hours.
Wong routinely communicates with the Student District Council, composed of student leaders from each campus, formed in cooperation with the Board of Trustees. SDC currently meets twice a month and student leaders convene at the district council meetings where Wong is able to ask questions. Each district has the ability and authority to act on the leadership within their campus, Wong said.
“Students are very intelligent, and they pay attention…and they start talking and start sharing information, and they start to see a pattern,” Wong said.
Jessica Germain, an English sophomore at Palo Alto College, finds most of her information related to the college via student email. Germain was unaware of the Board of Trustees election last semester, and she believes how information is presented is important. Germain thinks emails with “snippets of information and a link” would be better than emails primarily filled with text.
Albert R. Herrera, also a winner in June’s run-off election, now holds the seat for District 4. Herrera is a graduate of South San Antonio High School and attended college at St. Mary’s University and Palo Alto College. Herrera’s older brother, Arthur Herrera, previously held his seat on the board some twenty years ago. Multiple attempts to reach Herrera were unsuccessful.
Herrera manages the Lighthouse Charter School in San Antonio. The school serves 207 students from Pre-K through 8th grade. Herrera is also the chief financial officer of Imagine Educational Foundation, a local non-profit organization.
Kingsbery, Wong and Herrera are three of 10 board members, although Wong is a non-voting member.
The Board of Trustees have a responsibility, both fiscally and legally, to the operation of each college in the district. The five Alamo Colleges serve more than 62,000 students at San Antonio College, Palo Alto College, Northwest Vista College, St. Philip’s College and Northeast Lakeview College.
“The key to having a strong representation is getting all the campuses together,” Wong said. “That’s been difficult.”
The Board of Trustees have the power to approve courses and curriculum, have input on a $300 million annual budget, and also direct facilities and personnel. Each trustee serves for a six-year term on a staggered schedule.
Three of nine voting trustees are up for election during any given two-year period. The next election will be in 2016 when District 1, represented by Joe Alderete; District 2, represented by Denver McClendon; and District 3, represented by Anna Bustamante will be up for grabs.
Wong’s term ends in April 2015. For information on how to apply for the student position, contact Sandra Mora, Board liaison, at (210) 485-0030.
Visit the Alamo Colleges’ website to find out who represents you.