Lower Columbia College will spend $1.55 million on a "wish list" of projects that include a new gym floor, a new campus telephone system and an addition to the campus services building.
A surge in tuition dollars from LCC's record-high enrollment is funding the projects, said college spokeswoman Sue Groth. LCC's board of trustees approved the projects last week.
"Because our enrollment has been so high for so long, we paid for extra teachers and we still have money left over. We've decided to do several projects that weren't in the original budget ... and we have a number of projects on the wish list," Groth said.
Groth said LCC officials decided not to use surplus tuition dollars to make up for a projected $890,000 cut the college is expecting in state support. Using it that way would be only a temporary fix, Groth said.
"If we use the money to plug the hole this year, we'll have to make those cuts next year," Groth explained, adding there's no guarantee excess tuition dollars will be available in coming years.
LCC is planning to make up most, if not all, of the state revenue loss by offering a retirement incentive to employees this year.
The college will use part of the $1.55 million to restore some work-study hours expected to be cut by the state this year, purchase a dance floor for a Rose Center classroom, buy equipment for industrial technology programs, and put more money into the LCC student activities fund - which helps pay for student government and campus clubs.
Buying a new phone system is expected to cost about $500,000 and will serve the campus for many years to come, Groth said.
LCC is running out of phone lines. Also, Groth said, the new system won't cost the college any more than moving the hardware for the existing system, which it must do when it demolishes the Instructional Office Building in a few years. "We were going to have to pay just as much to keep the one we have now functioning," Groth said.
Some of the money will help the LCC Head Start program add several offices to its day-care building - a project that's mostly funded by grants.
In place of the existing Head Start administrative office building, LCC wants to build a two-story addition to the school's campus services building, which houses the LCC mail room and security offices. The college also wants the new addition to include storage room and classrooms in for the Career Education Options program, which helps 16- to 21-year-olds earn high school diplomas. The program now is in a campus portable, Groth said.
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