College President Don Tomas asked commissioners to supply an extra $600,000 in the upcoming budget to contribute towards several renovations and expansions. The county has already committed $600,000 to the campus building plan. The money has been set aside, ready to be tapped when building starts. SCC leaders want another $600,000 added to the kitty this year, for a total contribution of $1.2 million.
The estimated cost of the campus plan is about $3.6 million, but the remaining funds will come from the state and other sources.
Tomas said some the improvements are necessary to keep up with the college’s growing student population and maintain its status among other community colleges. One of the top priorities is a campus quad and central student gathering area designed with outdoor seating, walkways and green spaces, which Tomas said is long overdue.
“We’re probably the only community college in the state without a centralized place for students to gather,” he said.
The campus quad project is part of the first phase of proposed projects and is estimated to cost about $300,000. It would connect to the recently completed, $8.8 million Burrell Building.
Construction will begin in six to eight months. If full funding for the plan materializes, it could be completed within two years. County leaders will decide whether to put in another $600,000 during the budget planning process for the next fiscal year that will take place over coming months, according to County Manager Chuck Wooten. He added that because the county could afford to set aside the $600,000 in the current budget already, it should probably be able to do the same for next year.
“Assuming our revenues our comparable, then it should have a negative impact on next year’s budget,” Wooten said.
The campus building plan has six components, ranging from additional classrooms to new parking lots to accessibility.
• Another top priority is a 6,600-square-foot, $1.5 million addition to Founder’s Hall, the oldest building on campus, built 50 years ago. The Founder’s Hall addition would create more instructional space for cosmetology students. Currently there is a backlog of potential students who want to study the subject but can’t get a space in the program. With the additional space, the waiting list would be eliminated within two years.
The plan for Founder’s Hall also includes expanding the food services available on campus and designating space for a café. A food service entry door would be added to the building. Tomas said food services and parking are two areas for which students are consistently requesting more services and better service.
• A new $500,000 parking lot is also slated for the first tier of building activity along with a $100,000 improvement to the school’s fire hydrant system and water infrastructure.
• A second phase of the construction plan would include nearly $1 million in improvements to Bradford Hall. The work would expand the culinary arts classrooms, renovate the gymnasium and physical education spaces, adding showers, along with improvements a multi-purpose room in the building. In a tourism-oriented economy, the culinary arts programs are very popular at SCC.
“That program is highly sought after,” Tomas said. “Many go to work at Harrah’s or Highlands and Cashiers resorts.”
• The welding facilities are also in store for a $268,000 face-lift, including an expansion to instructional facilities and enclosing some of the classroom space located outside.
• Part of the proposed projects is handicapped accessibility. The campus is plagued with several areas of campus that are either difficult to access by someone in a wheelchair or with limited mobility, or impossible to access at all.
Tomas said at students have come forward and expressed their concerns about campus accessibility.
“I visited with a young man who was wheelchair bound and addressed some of his concerns,” Tomas said. “It was very difficult for him to maneuver from one building to another and get to class without being late.”