Inside Amarillo College’s nearly $90 million bond proposal

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On May 4, voters in Potter and Randall Counties will have the option to approve a bond proposal for Amarillo College (AC).

If approved, AC said the nearly $90 million in bond funds would be dispersed across all Amarillo campuses.

The proposed bond would have three basic goals: Targeting economic development, improving public safety by training more first responders and finding technology solutions for students.

“When you look at the opportunities for economic development, education attainment is the number one predictor of which communities are going to succeed or fail,” said Dr. Russell Lowery-Hart, AC President. “This bond will give us opportunities to improve our classroom space for students and really develop workforce skills that our business owners in our local community need.”

Dr. Lowery-Hart said the bond is about improving what AC already has in order to be more effective. However, he said there have been some misconceptions.

“We had the senior citizens as a group, come visit our regents, ’cause I think there was a lot of misinformation that we’re kicking them out and we’re not,” Dr. Lowery-Hart said. “We’re relocating them in another part of the building where we already have robust senior services and trying to find ways that we can offer even more partnership with them.”

The bond’s maximum increase to taxpayers is four cents per $100 valuation, according to an AC spokesman. Dr. Lowery-hart said it comes out to about $3/mo. per household, for the bond’s total $89,206,000.

“Well, that is a big bond election amount,” said Mike Haynes, who is in favor of the bond. “It’s a lot more than the one in the ’90s when I was working at Amarillo College. I know they need it. AC is so valuable to the community.”

Mary Lou Schmucker echoed those sentiments. 

“That’s not a lot to ask to help get something that the community really needs and really uses, and it brings in a lot of revenue to Amarillo,” Schmucker said.

An AC spokesman said approved, the bond would be in effect for the next 25 years. Funds would be used in phases as projects commence over the span of eight years.

A combination of funds from a 2018 grant and the potential bond would be used to create an Innovation Hub at the Downtown Campus, which would also provide space to serve both seniors and the business community.
 

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