STC rolling out second semester registration for Delta area

EDCOUCH — South Texas College officials are getting ready to finalize the first semester offering classes in the Delta region, and plans to expand course offerings and enrollment for the spring of 2019 are already underway.

A registration roundup is scheduled between 4 and 7 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 5, at the Edcouch-Elsa school district’s Technology Center, targeting students from Edcouch, Elsa, La Villa, Monte Alto, La Blanca and Hargill, Mid-Valley campus administrator Daniel Montez said.

The junior college is expanding its course offerings in the region from three to five classes and plans to expand capacity by more than 150 students.

House Bill 382 became law in 2015, requiring STC to offer associate-degree-leading courses in a classroom setting in the Delta region by the 2019-20 school year.

The nearest campus then was the Mid-Valley campus in Weslaco, and area legislators authored and backed the bill as a first step toward a Delta campus.

“I’m extremely pleased with the fact that the legislation passed and we can now move on to implementing and increasing STC’s presence in the Delta area,” said in 2015 State Rep. Terry Canales, D-Edinburg, who authored the original bill. “This is the beginning of what will eventually be an independent, free-standing facility.”

At the time, college officials stated it was never about not wanting to expand to that area, which was serving students through its Mid-Valley campus in Weslaco. But it was about fulfilling demand and spending taxpayer’s money smartly in such a broad region like the Rio Grande Valley, they said.

But abiding the law early, STC partnered with Edcouch-Elsa school district to use its technology center as their initial campus and began offering evening classes this fall.

“We are using these facilities in the evening hours while they are not being used by the district,” he said. “As this progresses, we might need to look at other facilities that are available in the day time… In addition to that, of course we also have the online (course) offerings.”

The targeted areas represent furthest regions from the Mid-Valley campus, Montez explained.

This fall about 20 to 25 students enrolled in the initial courses, he said. But the plan is to expand offerings and capacity each year as demand grows.

This upcoming spring the number of courses is growing to five and the number of registered students has already exceeded that of the fall semester by about 10 students, days before a registration roundup being promoted by the college.

In the spring the college will offer courses in English, math, history, computer science and a developmental math. Courses that will be offered at this location will be marked by the designation D70, which stands for Delta.

“Every program that you go into is going to require these courses, so we feel like this is something that is going to be in demand no matter what degree plan a student chooses,” Montez said.

Once all basic courses are being offered in the area, the plan is to keep track of what career paths the majority of students are seeking to begin expanding course offerings in those particular areas.

“We are already looking at the fall 2019 offerings, so we are starting to make preparations for that semester,” Montez said.

For the moment, the college plans to double the current capacity by alternating schedules between Monday and Wednesday; and Tuesday and Thursday. Montez predicted that they will be able to accommodate up to 194 students overall the upcoming semester.

STC representatives from the departments of financial aid, advising and admissions, will be available at the registration roundup to guide those interested in enrolling.

“We are going to be there to walk people through the process,” Montez said. “If they haven’t done anything at all, then we can get them started on their application for admissions, for financial aid, which is the FAFSA and we can also advise them on the different programs of study that we have.”

dperez-hernandez@themonitor.com