Lone Star College System approves budget, calls for Nov. 4 bond election

HOUSTON (Aug. 8, 2014) – The Lone Star College System Board of Trustees voted to approve the 2014-15 operating budget and to put a bond referendum before area voters on Nov. 4.

Voters will be asked to decide on supporting a $485 million bond which will be used to create more learning space to accommodate the extraordinary growth being experienced in the LSCS service area.

“From fall 2007 to fall 2013, Lone Star College has seen a 57 percent increase in student enrollment, adding more than 30,000 students,” said Dr. Steve Head, LSCS chancellor. “With the current population boom in the LSC service area, we are projecting more than 96,000 students at our colleges by 2018.”

According the Greater Houston Partnership, the Houston region is expected to have 74,177 openings annually in middle skills occupations from now to 2017.

The proposed bond plan includes:

-680,000 square feet of learning space to address growth needs and the area’s shortage of skilled workers.

-No tax rate increase associated with the bond referendum

-Enhancing campus security and improving technology infrastructure

Workforce education, economic development and community prosperity are the key themes of the bond program. Dr. Head remarked, “This is about student access to high quality, relevant programs of study that lead to good careers with sustained earnings potential. It’s good for students, it’s good for employers and it’s good for the community. We all benefit.”

Trustee Linda Good continued, “I know personally how transformative a good community college can be. I want all of our students to have that same transformational experience.” Good, an attorney, was a community college student who began her higher education at the age of 32 and completed each degree in the traditional amount of time while raising three children.

During a recent meeting of area businesses, education leaders, government and civic sectors, LSCS demonstrated how it will be able to absorb this construction debt due to 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.

The election will be held Tuesday, Nov.4 and will include the $485 million bond referendum as well as three LSCS Trustee spots up for consideration. Early voting is set for Oct. 20 – Oct. 31.

The board also approved the operating budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year which:

-Anticipates a tax rate decrease for home owners, with the amount to be determined once certified tax rolls are released at the end of August.

-Maintains efficient administrative costs, one of the lowest in the nation at 11.4%

-Provides an innovative Tele-Health program that makes free telephone access to doctors and medical care available to all employees (FT/PT/Adjunct) and their families regardless of insurance status.

-Funds a moderate cost of living adjustment for full time employees (2% on 9/1/14 and 1.5% on 3/1/15) and 4% increase for part time hourly employees.

The approved budget also finances the full implementation of the LSC Honors College. The Honors College is designed to meet the needs of high-achieving students seeking to improve their college transcripts and transferability with challenging coursework provided across a broad range of disciplines.