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Good afternoon! The summer semester is in full swing, and so are all of the activities and news we've seen and read over the past few weeks.
The Texas Legislature ended its 85th session last month. The governor has been busy signing a number of bills that included the state's budget, as well as SB 2118, which I mentioned in our last discussion.
The governor's signature on SB 2118 only two weeks ago means that DCCCD got the green light to offer baccalaureate degrees in early childhood education, nursing, and applied technology.
State Senator Royce West and Representative Helen Giddings filed bills to address the shortage of early childhood teachers in the North Texas area. The language from their bills became part of SB 2118 by Chairman Kel Seliger.
The legislation will help us provide a solution to a shortage of more than 4,000 early childhood education teachers in Dallas County. We want to thank everyone who helped us with this effort, which was one of our key goals for this session.
And we were excited to read a great editorial in the Dallas Morning News that said, "It's smart to emphasize early childhood training."
The budget for the next biennium gives the district an increase of approximately $2 million, and it also provides 90% of the funds needed for Starlink and our Small Business Development Centers.
The Recruit Texas bill also passed, which will help attract companies to Texas and then involve them with the state's community colleges. I have already had discussions with the Texas Workforce Commission and area economic development teams about how we can partner together to take the lead on Recruit Texas.
Now we wait for a special session, which was called by the governor and will start on July 18.
The last time we talked, the issue of concealed carry was top-of-mind across our district. Our trustees met earlier this month and approved my recommendations for our concealed carry policy. That policy starts on August 1st of this year, as required under state law.
Our district is committed to protecting the health and safety of the DCCCD community as we respect the rights of individual members.
Passing this policy allows us to comply with the law, without compromising our mission, purpose, or the environment in which we all work and learn.
You can find specifics about the new concealed carry policy on our district website. Our trustees also decided to review the policy in two years.
Thank you again to everyone who provided their input and who worked on crafting this policy so that we would be ready to move forward this coming academic year.
In the meantime, we received notification that DCCCD once again has earned a triple-A bond rating from Fitch Ratings for our general obligation bonds.
Our business affairs administrators and staff members follow strong financial management practices over the long term, with the support of our trustees. Those practices ensure that we have the money we need for operations in the district.
The bottom line is that we conduct business well, with transparency and flexibility. Ratings we receive from Fitch and other financial organizations reflect that fact.
I also would like to mention a workforce-related program that will help veterans. Last week, Amazon announced that it is bringing a new apprenticeship program to the DFW area.
The company is partnering with Richland College to offer a 16-week certificate program in which veterans can learn the in's and out's of cloud computing.
Then they will complete a year-long apprenticeship program with Amazon, where they will get critical on-the-job experience. At the end of the program, participants are guaranteed an interview for a full-time position with the company.
Amazon is involved in an ongoing effort to hire and train veterans.
DCCCD is dedicated to helping veterans continue their education and providing job skills so that they can build new careers following their service. This new apprenticeship opportunity with Richland College is an excellent example of those efforts in action.
Finally….The first anniversary of the tragic July 7 police shooting in Dallas will be here soon. We once again thank the DCCCD police officers at El Centro College who bravely defended our students, faculty and staff that night.
El Centro has scheduled a memorial event that will focus on honoring police officers who died, who were wounded, and who responded that night. The program also will focus on renewal and the importance of community building.
The tribute will be held on Friday, July 7, at 11 a.m., in the El Centro College Student Center. Dr. Adames and Dallas City Councilman Adam McGough will speak, along with one or two other people. A student artwork also will be unveiled. All members of the DCCCD community are invited to participate.
Enjoy your weekend and have a safe Independence Day next week.