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LSCS outlines bond referendum projects by campus

HOUSTON (March 6, 2013) – Lone Star College System has launched a new web site –  LoneStar.edu/Bond2013 – to provide details on the projects by campus related to the May 11 bond referendum called by the LSCS Board of Trustees.

In addition, candidates for the LSCS trustee election, also to be held on May 11, have been announced and are listed on this site as well.

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

Board members voted unanimously to approve a $497.7 million bond referendum and LSCS officials have been working since that time to revise previously proposed construction projects to meet the bond amount authorized by the board.

The bond referendum to go before voters expands capacity to meet the unprecedented student population growth at LSCS and 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.

Highlights of the proposed bond construction include improved campus security and safety throughout LSCS, new workforce training facilities, along with three new centers to serve some of the fastest-growing communities in the college system.

In addition, LSCS is seeking approval from voters to add 996,000 square feet of instructional and support building space, along with related infrastructure, to its colleges and centers. The college system also anticipates needing to renovate 252,000 square feet of current space.

During this process, 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,” said Randy Bates, LSCS board chairman.

Proposed projects by campus included in the referendum:

LSC-CyFair - $55 million

•              New instructional building – 100,000 sf
•              New instructional building – 50,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 1,000 spaces
•              County required traffic improvements
•              LSC-Fairbanks Center – 200 parking spaces

LSC-Kingwood - $38.2 million
•              New healthcare instructional building – 50,000 sf
•              Student services expansion – 5,000 sf
•              New instructional building – 20,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 450 spaces

LSC-Montgomery - $38.9 million

•              New student services building – 60,000 sf
•              New university center – 54,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 420 spaces
•              Widen and improve entry drives

LSC-North Harris - $120 million
•              New instructional building – 70,000 sf
•              New workforce training building – 50,000 sf
•              New instructional building – 50,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 930 spaces
•              New loop road and Richey Road entry drive
•              LSC-Victory Center expansion – 25,000 sf
•              Future East Aldine Center – 85,000 sf +650 parking

LSC-Tomball - $102.2 million
•              New student services/instructional building – 60,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 300 spaces
•              New campus entry drive
•              Build-out Health Science Building – 20,000 sf
•              Future Creekside Center – 85,000 sf +650 parking
•              Future Magnolia Center – 85,000 sf +650 parking

LSC-University Park - $59.3 million
•              New instructional science building – 50,000 sf
•              New instructional arts building – 45,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 170 spaces

System-wide support projects - $84.1 million

•              Campus safety and security improvements
•              Technology infrastructure upgrades and expansion
•              Program management and land acquisitions
•              Cost and growth contingencies
•              New educational support building – 46,000 sf
•              Increase parking – 210 spaces

Details, including maps of proposed facility construction, may be found at LoneStar.edu/Bond2013

The May 11 election also includes three trustee positions that are up for consideration by voters. For Position 1, incumbent David Holsey is being challenged by Elizabeth “Liz” Jensen. Position 2 incumbent Tom Forestier is facing two challengers – Janie Branham and Kyle A. Scott. And for Position 8, incumbent Randy Bates is facing Bill Morris and Ron Trowbridge.

Dr. Richard Carpenter, LSCS chancellor, referring to the bond referendum, noted that bond funds can only be used for construction and not for operating expenses, which requires the college system to work smarter and more efficiently.

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

LSCS is able to absorb 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 or the year in which they qualified for the exemption.

The election will be held on Saturday, May 11 with early voting set for April 29 – May 7.  More information including early voting polling places may also be found 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.