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Lone Star College System Board calls for May 11 bond election

HOUSTON (Feb. 22, 2013) – The Lone Star College System Board of Trustees has responded to a committee of citizen leaders and voted unanimously to put a bond referendum in front of area voters for approval on May 11.

The trustees held a special meeting on Feb. 20 to officially call a trustee and bond election and appoint a staff representative to perform election duties on behalf of the board secretary.

The citizens’ committee, representing area business, education, government and civic sectors, recommended to the board on Feb. 7 that the college system consider building new learning facilities and infrastructure sufficient to accommodate the system’s historical growth.

The election will be held on Saturday, May 11 and will include a $498 million bond referendum as well as three LSCS trustee spots up for consideration.

The bond includes financing for learning facilities at each campus – projects that were prioritized and outlined by the group of citizen leaders as part of their recommendation to the board.

The 2013 bond referendum expands capacity to meet unprecedented student population growth. Since the 2008 bond referendum, LSCS has added more than 30,000 students, which is equivalent to adding the combined total enrollment of five medium-sized colleges like Alvin Community College, Lee College, Galveston College, Temple College and Victoria College.

“The enrollment growth at Lone Star College System is unprecedented,” said Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor.

Randy Bates, LSCS board chairman, told those at the meeting on Feb. 20 that the board was adamant about receiving a plan that would accommodate the historic student enrollment growth without requiring an increase in the LSCS tax rate for local taxpayers.

“This was our most important stipulation as we considered asking the public to approve a bond referendum,” Bates said.

LSCS is able to absorb this construction debt because of its strong financial foundation through superior budget management and accelerated pay down of previous debt. The college system also maintains administrative operating expenses below 12 percent, which is among the lowest of any college in the nation.

In addition, LSCS has benefited from eight credit rating increases in the last 10 years and maintains AAA status from Standard and Poor’s Ratings, which allows the college to save millions of dollars in interest expense.

The LSCS tax rate is the same as it was 15 years ago and the college’s past two bond referendums did not cause an increase in the tax rate. In fact, many homeowners in the LSCS service area – those 65 years of age or older – enjoy a tax freeze implemented by the LSCS Board in 2006, which means the taxes for their existing home are frozen at the level they paid in 2006.

“Our budget is focused on providing a top-notch education for our students” said Dr. Carpenter.

He noted that bond referendum money can only be used for construction and not for operating expenses, which requires the college system to work smarter and more efficiently.

To help accommodate growth as part of the bond referendum, LSCS is seeking approval from voters to add 1 million square feet of instructional and support building space, along with related infrastructure, to its colleges and centers. In addition, the college system anticipates needing to renovate 255,000 square feet of current space.

The election will be held on Saturday, May 11 with early voting set for April 29 – May 7. It will include three LSCS Board of Trustees positions and the $498 million bond referendum. Polling places haven’t yet been announced. More information will be made available at LoneStar.edu/Bond2013

Lone Star College System has been opening doors to a better community for 40 years. Founded in 1973, LSCS remains steadfast in its commitment to student success and credential completion. Today, with 78,000 students in credit classes, and a total enrollment of more than 90,000, Lone Star College System is the largest institution of higher education in the Houston area and the fastest-growing community college system in the nation. Dr. Richard Carpenter is the chancellor of LSCS, which consists of six colleges including LSC-CyFair, LSC-Kingwood, LSC-Montgomery, LSC-North Harris, LSC-Tomball and LSC-University Park, five centers, LSC-University Center at Montgomery, LSC-University Center at University Park, Lone Star Corporate College, and LSC-Online. To learn more visit LoneStar.edu.