FORT WORTH -- Tarrant County College trustees approved a $351 million budget Wednesday that includes a tuition increase earmarked for creating cooperative-learning areas on four of the district's older campuses.
No one showed up for the public hearing on the budget.
"I'm guessing the world is happy with what we are doing," Trustee O.K. Carter said.
Trustees voted 7-0 to approve the 2012-13 operating budget and keep the total tax rate at 14.897 cents per $100 of assessed property values.
The vote to raise tuition was also unanimous.
Starting in the spring 2013 semester, in-district students will pay $55 a semester hour, up from $52. Out-of-district students will pay $10 more per semester hour, and nonresident students will pay $34 more.
The increases are expected to generate more than $10 million by the end of the 2015 academic year to provide more learning spaces -- or "sticky spaces" -- for students.
These spaces are modern, open areas that promote cooperative learning, Chancellor Erma Johnson Hadley said. The areas are loungelike and have computer technology. The spaces are designed to promote brainstorming.
The learning areas will be included in renovations of the South, Northeast, Southeast and Northwest campuses. The newer Trinity River East and Trinity River campuses already have the areas, she said.
The budget also includes $5.1 million for faculty and staff salary increases. An additional $700,000 is being earmarked for a $1.50-per-hour increase for adjunct faculty who teach credit classes.
In a separate action after an executive session, trustees voted unanimously to give Hadley a 3 percent pay raise. The chancellor's current salary is $365,000.
About $500,000 in the budget will pay for innovation forums -- areas where people can gather to brainstorm. Proposed math emporiums aimed at helping students become college-ready in the subject will be phased in using about $3.1 million.
Trustees were told that TCC enrollment is expected to reach 115,222 by 2020, up from the current 50,062, straining the district's ability to serve its students when state higher education dollars are dwindling. The prediction prompted trustees to put off ambitious projects while approving the tuition hike.
Administrators said that even with the higher tuition, TCC is still cheaper than several other Texas community college districts. The Lone Star College System in The Woodlands charges $88 for the first credit hour, and the Austin Community College District charges $62 per semester hour. Alamo Colleges, in the San Antonio area, charge a $480 flat rate for one to six credit hours.
According to their 2012-13 catalogs, the Dallas County Community College District charges in-county tuition of $45 per credit hour. At Collin College, which serves Collin County, tuition was $27 per credit hour for spring 2012.
Several major TCC projects have been put off, including a proposed aviation learning center, which would train aircraft mechanics, pilots and aerospace engineers. Plans continue for an indoor firing range at the Northwest Campus and a 67,200-square-foot technology center at the South Campus.
Diane Smith, 817-390-7675