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Chamber hears update on Lone Star College

North Houston Greenspoint Chamber members and guests heard an update on the status of growth at Lone Star College at last Thursday’s chamber luncheon, held at the Days Hotel on Beltway 8.

Dr. Stephen Head, president of Lone Star College-North Harris, made the presentation with slides and commentary. He detailed the progress that has been made since a $420 million bond issue was passed in the spring, and what the public can expect from the expenditures.

He also portrayed a revolution in college education, as community colleges such as LSC try to meet the needs of population growth and interest in college education and job prospects.

The program also had a condensed presentation by Chamber president Reggie Gray, of a new concept and initiative by the Chamber for a Center for Business Development that will be a partnered program between the chamber and the college, which will offer unique development help for new and existing businesses. This incubator type of program will offer training, resources and experiences to help businesses develop their full potential. (Editor’s note: See next week’s Northeast News for a more complete report on this Chamber program.)

Dr. Head detailed the changes and growth at Lone Star College (formerly North Harris Montgomery County College District) since he first came in 1984 as a history and higher education teacher.

North Harris College now has 12,000 students, and 2 satellite campuses, as well as instruction at MacArthur High school and proposed at Aldine HS The bond issue will provide about $60 million for expansion plans.

These expansion plans, according to Dr. Head, include a new Student Services Building on the main campus, renovations to the Academic Building, an addition to the Fine Arts building, an addition to the Applied Technology building, and a new Health Professions building at an I-45 site.

Also planned are renovations to the LSC-NH Greenspoint Building, and a proposed Aldine Center facility.

Dr. Head said that the whole Lone Star College System now has 53,000 students, and a $210 million yearly budget. This makes it the 3rd largest in the state of Texas. The growth rate is about 5000 new students each year. Even so, it remains one of the best bargains in college education, with a 12 semester hour schedule only costing $540 per semester, one of the lowest in the state.

The current tax rate for the system is $.1145 per $100 of real estate valuation. This is generating the $210 million for the yearly budget, he said, because the assessed value within the service district is so large, at $100 billion, with a growth rate of about 8%. This suggests a continued base to support further system growth.

Another factor driving the growth of the community college system is the contrast with the cost of private colleges, which are now averaging about $40,000 a year.

Community colleges are also focused more on job training, which makes their education valuable to students. Included in the focus on student success is the realization that many students live at home, are young, and the college deals with their anxiety and inexperience as well as education.