Successful frameworks for financing capital projects: an analysis of Texas community college processes for bond referendums, 1998-2008



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The purpose of this study was to investigate the capital project financing methods of Texas community college districts, including an analysis of successful general obligation bond elections. A two-phase research approach was used in this analysis. The first part of the research investigation surveyed 65 community college executives and administrators representing 50 community college districts in Texas. College leaders were asked to participate in an online survey regarding finance methods used to fund capital projects. This included leaders who have participated in general obligation bond referendums on their college campuses. Thirty-four out of 65 leaders responded to the survey, which resulted in a 52.3% response rate. The second part of the investigation disaggregated survey response information from district college leaders into two groups: Those who finance capital projects utilizing general obligation bonds (GO bond) and those who use other methods than general obligation bonds to fund capital improvements or renovations. A cross-sectional study was conducted during the second phase, which investigated 12 community college district leaders’ processes and strategies of passing general obligation bond elections from 1998 to 2008. As a follow-up to the survey instrument, 11 interviews were conducted from GO and non-GO bond community college districts. The results from the findings led to the following conclusions. Each community college district is unique in how capital projects are funded. The commonalities that existed among survey participants and the personal interviews conducted were establishing strong community relationships prior to the planning of bond campaigns. The data reinforced the basic premise of building key relationships with civic/business leaders early on in the process. The importance of creating an environment that focuses on open communication and trust in support of the college was a determining factor for winning bond elections. The recommendations that emerged from this study were community college leaders must begin a dialogue to share best practices in capital project funding. Secondly, community college leaders must advocate for an organized system of data collection to record general obligation bond elections from their state agencies. Lastly, an organization for capital project advocacy must be created.