|(a) The governing board of a community college district requesting authority to convert an out-of-district center/facility to a branch campus must submit a Letter of Application to the Commissioner. (b) A self-study must be performed by the district to assess whether the proposed branch campus meets the criteria outlined below. The self-study and the extension center or extension facility shall be reviewed by a Board-appointed team, a majority of which should be community college presidents, for the purposes of documenting that it meets the following standards and criteria for quality instruction and support services, as required by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and Coordinating Board rules and regulations: (1) Role and Mission; Purpose. In its program aspects, a branch campus shall be equivalent to a public community college. Therefore, the branch campus must provide: (A) technical programs up to two years in length leading to associate degrees or certificates; (B) vocational programs leading directly to employment in semi-skilled and skilled occupations; (C) freshman and sophomore courses in arts and sciences, including the state-mandated core curriculum; (D) continuing adult education programs for occupational or cultural upgrading; (E) compensatory education programs designed to fulfill the commitment of an admissions policy allowing enrollment of disadvantaged students; (F) a continuing program of counseling and guidance designed to assist students in achieving their individual educational goals; (G) work force development programs designed to meet local and statewide needs; (H) adult literacy and other basic skills programs for adults; and (I) such other purposes as may be prescribed by the Coordinating Board or local governing boards in the best interest of postsecondary education in Texas. (2) Programs and Courses. All courses, programs, and degrees shall be offered in the name of the parent district, and shall be subject to the following criteria: (A) Courses and programs must meet the role, mission, and purposes described in paragraph (1) of this subsection. (B) Courses and programs must be developed and operated with the on-going assistance and involvement of the parent district faculty and staff. (C) Instructional faculty credentials, full-time/part-time faculty ratios, teaching loads, faculty performance evaluation and effectiveness, student accessibility to faculty, etc., must be reviewed to ensure that these elements contribute to the quality of courses and programs offered. (3) Description of Staffing Plan. There must be sufficient academic and student support staff to meet the needs of faculty and students at the branch campus. (4) Funding. (A) The branch campus shall be supported either by means of a branch campus maintenance tax as set forth in Chapter 8, Subchapter E, of this title (relating to Branch Campus Maintenance Tax), or by local sources of community and/or economic support. (B) If a local tax is not levied, local sources of support must be furnished at a level sufficient to provide adequate facilities needed at the proposed branch campus location. "Facilities" include the operation and maintenance of the physical plant including any rehabilitation and repairs. Local sources of support may be "in kind." (C) Appropriate accounts which comply with generally accepted accounting principles for the branch campus must be kept and financial reports submitted as required for community college districts. (D) State aid shall be earned according to appropriated formula rates. (5) Regional Higher Education Council Review and Certification. The Regional Higher Education Council within which the proposed branch campus is to be located must review the branch campus request only if the proposed branch campus is within a shared service area designated by statute. Member institutions must discuss the proposal with all Councils affected and the minutes shall reflect the discussions. If appropriate, a recommendation for approval or disapproval shall be submitted to the Commissioner, but shall not be binding on the Commissioner or the Board. (c) The Board's Committee on Institutional Effectiveness and Excellence may conduct one or more public hearings on the proposed branch campus to: (1) assess public sentiment regarding the proposed branch campus; (2) determine whether programs in the proposed branch campus will create unnecessary duplication or seriously harm programs in existing community college districts or other institutions of higher education in the area; and (3) assess the potential impact of the proposed branch campus on existing community colleges or other institutions of higher education in the area and on the State of Texas. (d) After the self-study as outlined in subsection (b) of this section, has been reviewed and a site visit conducted by Board staff, a report from the Board staff shall be submitted to the Commissioner indicating whether the criteria as set out in subsection (b) of this section, have been met. The report shall include a recommendation for approval or denial of the request for the establishment of the proposed branch campus, but shall not be binding on the Commissioner or the Board.