Incumbent Bill Greenhill and newcomer Laura Forkner Pritchett shared starkly different views on how Tarrant County College works.
After emerging from a four-way contest, Greenhill and Pritchett will go head-to-head in the June 10 ballot to represent District 4 on the TCC board of directors.
The nominees focused much of the conversation on TCC’s financial management and the tax rate set by the board. They appeared in a May 25 debate at Texas Wesleyan University hosted by the nonpartisan Fort Worth Report, KERA and SteerFW.
Early voting begins on May 30 and ends on June 6.
The candidates vie for a four-year term to represent District 4, which includes West Fort Worth, Azle, Haslet, Watauga, North Richland Hills and Haltom City.
Greenhill began the debate by pointing to his experience of why voters should re-elect him.
His 10 years on the board have given him an understanding of what’s happening in the college, Greenhill said. He is able to support the many programs the college offers to students.
“As a trustee, I’m doing this as a service to the community to put students first,” Greenhill added.
Pritchett said he appreciated Greenhill’s time on the board, but two terms are enough.
“It’s about time someone stepped up and showed real leadership and governance,” Pritchett said.
He criticized Greenhill and the TCC board’s handling of the budget. He said too much funding will go to administration instead of workforce development programs.
Pritchett said he would look closely at the budget to see if there was any waste or fraud.
“Let’s treat it like it’s a business,” Pritchett added.
Greenhill defended the college’s spending, which he said was frugal despite the state legislature’s reduction in funding, which shifted most of the burden onto local taxpayers. He also noted that TCC hasn’t raised its tax rate since 2019.
Although the rate has remained the same, TCC residents pay more in property taxes due to higher valuations, Pritchett noted.
“The college has a responsibility to not just say, ‘Give me $500 million more because I asked for it,'” Pritchett added.
DEI in public schools
Texas lawmakers appear poised to scrap diversity, equity and inclusion programs at public universities in the state.
Pritchett wants to eliminate DEI at the TCC and emphasized this position during the debate.
The college needs to focus on traditional academics and job skills development, and TCC should base its hiring on merit, not appearances, Pritchett said.
“I don’t know why we continue to be so divisive in our policies,” Pritchett said. “The school needs to focus on workforce development and not on someone’s skin color.”
Greenhill said it wasn’t a problem.
As Texas Senate Bill 17 is likely to become law, TCC will follow guidelines provided by the state, Greenhill said.
“We will abide by the law,” Greenhill added.
Greenhill added that TCC already hires based on merit and not based on race.
Pritchett said TCC has a whole department for DEI. She also said Elva LeBlanc, the chancellor of the TCC, has spoken out in favor of hiring based on race.
Greenhill replied, “This is, of course, a false statement.”
Responsibility of the TCC
Candidates were asked how they would rate and hold accountable LeBlanc, who became chancellor of the TCC last year.
Greenhill said he has complete confidence in LeBlanc because of his experience and that TCC already has a review process for the registrar.
“LeBlanc is a wonderful chancellor,” Greenhill added.
Pritchett said she was ready to work with LeBlanc after his election, but stressed that the trustees’ job is to oversee the chancellor.
“I wonder if he confused the role of a trustee,” Pritchett said of Greenhill. “It is the board of directors who has oversight over the clerk instead of the clerk having oversight over the directors.”
Disclosure: Bill Greenhill has been a financial supporter of the Fort Worth Report. At Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial backers. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.
Juan Salinas II is a reporter for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at [email protected] or at Chirping. At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial backers. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.