Del Mar College President Mark Escamilla is both excited about the college’s future and anxious over how the 2017 legislative session might impact state funding for the school.
“We did not fare well in the previous (legislative) session,” Escamilla said. “This will be a very important session for us.”
Escamilla is optimistic, however, about the push by the Texas Association of Community Colleges to keep and increase funding for colleges around the state.
“I’m going to be spending a lot of time in Austin over the next few weeks,” Escamilla said. “We need to educate the delegation about the importance of community colleges.”
The budget guide for the 2016-17 academic year shows that almost 22 percent of the college’s funds come from the state.
Local voters in 2016 narrowly approved a $139 million bond to fund the first phase of construction on a Southside campus, which Escamilla called a turning point.
“It’s a point in our history that is really going to change our school,” Escamilla said of the Southside campus.
Work also will begin soon to tear down the English Building on East Campus and get started on the upgrades voters approved for the East and West campuses in 2014.
Escamilla said the changes will allow the school to meet the demands of both community growth and the employment market.
The end of the year also provided Del Mar with an opportunity to use the new Emergency Dome for the first time, as well as tackle a crisis head on.
“We hadn’t even opened it for educational programing” Escamilla said about the dome, located on West Campus. “I am very proud of how our staff stepped up to help during these difficult times.”
The dome was used by the city as a water distribution center during the city’s water ban in December.
Not only was the college able to turn the dome over to the city for emergency use, but it was able to stay open for faculty to finish getting grades in place and still hold winter graduation. Escamilla said a lot of it had to do with timing being on their side
Escamilla is mindful that another crisis could happen at any time, especially with hurricane season right around the corner, but said the school will do its best to plan for as much as it can.
“Hope for the best and plan for the worst,” he said with a laugh. “You take it minute by minute.”