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Lone Star College seeks bond support

Monday, April 21, 2008

Kathy Parks

Vote Saturday, May 10

The Lone Star College District, LSCD, is seeking community support for a $420 million bond that would raise funds for expansion and renovations to each of the five College District campuses. Dr. Richard Carpenter, chancellor, addressed business leaders at the recent Humble Area Chamber of Commerce luncheon, asking for support on May 10.

“Lone Star College District started serving 613 students - three school districts covering 59 square miles,” said Carpenter. “Today, it serves more than 50,000 students in 11 school districts, covering more than 1,400 square miles.”

The District serves an area with 1.6 million residents. It is the third largest college district in Texas and one of the fastest growing. In addition to the 50,000 students enrolled in credit classes, Carpenter said that 13,400 students take noncredit, continuing education courses and approximately 5,000 high school juniors and seniors take dual-credit classes. With projected growth he expects to be serving 72,000 students by 2015.

“We take them from where they are and get them where they need to be,” said Carpenter.

Along with helping high school students get ahead by earning college credit, he said the District also helps those who enter college without a solid foundation in English or mathematics to fill in their educational gaps and succeed in college classes.

Carpenter demonstrated the District’s ability to manage public funds and rapid growth by highlighting the facts that the LSCD is rated among the highest of all colleges and universities for financial accountability, allowing it to secure the best interest rates on bonds and lowering financing costs for taxpayers.

According to Carpenter, LSCD has one of the lowest percentages of total expenditures for administration of all community colleges in Texas; it has cut the tax rate six times since 1997 and it froze total taxes for the disabled and those over age 65.

After his presentation, Carpenter answered questions.

Community members asked how the District could hold the cost of expansion down. Carpenter told them that some classes are operating out of portable buildings and said that there is an increase in the number of online classes offered.

He talked about the growing pains of the College District and said that they have changed their vocabulary to keep up with the times. He said what was once referred to as a “temporary” building is now called a “portable” building, since they are rarely a temporary solution and they find themselves building a sidewalk to them. He also said they once billed students for a “parking” permit, but said it is now more of a “hunting” permit. Until additional parking spaces can be provided, he said students aren’t guaranteed a parking space, but they have the right to hunt for one.

“We have been growing because of the value we provide,” said Carpenter. “We want to maintain the quality of our service.”

Carpenter said supporting the bond would help the District continue to meet the needs of residents in the future and encouraged everyone to vote May 10. For more information on early voting and mail-in voting, visit www.LoneStar.edu/bond2008

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