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WC board develops plan for Wise County representation

The Weatherford College Board of Trustees approved a letter laying the framework for adding Wise County representation to the college board during a special meeting Monday afternoon.

The letter is a response to a January letter from Texas Senators Craig Estes and Brian Birdwell who requested Wise County be granted a seat on the board.

WC’s response, which was signed by Board Chairman Frank Martin, expresses the board’s openness to include Wise County as well as all counties in the college’s five-county service area to participate and join the taxing district.

Absent of annexation into the taxing district, the trustees propose the creation of a committee comprised of three WC board members along with three representatives from each of the other counties in the WC service district – Wise, Hood, Jack and Palo Pinto.

This committee would “develop a process for integrated planning for the future development of community college level education across the entire service area including a progressive integration of county representation at the district level that reflects the level of fiscal participation of the respective counties,” the letter states.

Creation of this committee is planned to begin following the May board of trustees election. At that time, the WC board is also open to the Wise County commissioners appointing an ex-officio member to the board of trustees. This option is also available to other counties in the service area.

The letter also referred to a 2007 document filed by WC and a Wise County steering committee presented to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. The document stated that the Wise County branch campus maintenance tax “does not authorize the county to have representation on the College Board of Trustees. This would occur only if the county voted to annex itself into the College’s taxing district.”

Wise County’s request for board representation stemmed from ongoing discussions between leadership of Wise County and WC about, among other topics, the formula used to determine indirect costs for the operation of the branch campus.

The trustees’ response letter asked the senators to consider that the college follows the Texas Education Code and generally accepted accounting principles with regard to indirect costs and that Wise County leaders were aware of indirect costs at the inception of the branch plan.

However, to address the county’s concerns, the trustees’ letter proposes the use of a “neutral regional accounting firm to develop a formula for the allocation of indirect costs to the branch that is mutually acceptable to both the county and the district.”

“It is the desire of the trustees that the branch not only succeeds but that it becomes a model for future outreach to all counties in the district’s service area,” the trustees letter stated. “It is the sincere belief that a comprehensive collaborative system rather than a one-off solution will be conducive to a stronger community education environment for all the counties associated with the Weatherford College District.”