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July 1, 2004

Refinancing bond savess college some major funds

From: Big Spring Herald, TX - Jul 1, 2004

By LYNDEL MOODY Staff Writer

Howard College trustees approved the refinancing of a 20-year bond Wednesday, a move made to save the district approximately $60,000.

"The interest rate dropped and we were able to refinance or refund the bond and save approximately $60,000 over the duration of the payout," explained Terry Hansen, executive vice president. "It was also a chance to correct a couple of other issues that were misworded in the original document."

Originally issued in 1989 for $2.8 million, the bond paid for construction of dormitories in the early 1990s and will mature in 2010. Funding for the bond comes from specific college revenues.

Saving money was on the minds of trustees Wednesday as they learned the college most likely will be included in Gov. Rick Perry's instructions to universities and state agencies to reduce their budgets by 5 percent.

"Community colleges have not received the request yet, but the state office believes we will receive the same instructions," President Dr. Cheryl Sparks told trustees.

This cut would mean a reduction of $254,000 for the Big Spring campus and comes during budget preparation for the 2004-2005 financial year. Numbers for the SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf were not available.

Although administrators may have to tighten the belt a little more come budget time, finding ways to recruit and retain students will definitely play a large factor during the budget process this year, Sparks said.

"We are trying to be progressive but conservative," she said. "We are looking at opportunities to increase student interest in coming to our college with programs and services, and once we get them here, ways to retain them.

"As we look at our budget, we're trying to ask ourselves those kinds of questions," she continued. "What gets them here and what keeps them here?"

Student enrollment fell slightly at the Big Spring campus in 2003-2004, the first time in five years, but growth on the SWCID campus doesn't seem a problem.

Provost Ron Brasel said by judging the number of new students who applied for on-campus and off-campus living, the school projects record-breaking enrollment of new students in the fall.

This news comes as Howard College administrators prepare the annual biennium state legislative appropriation request for SWCID. The request includes money to fund facility renovations.

"SWCID doesn't have a tax base of any kind," Sparks said. "Our capital has to come from the state, and since we can only ask every two years, we have to get our wish list together."

In a move to help growth pains at the San Angelo campus, trustees accepted $10,000 from the Howard College, San Angelo Foundation to be used to create a master plan for the campus.

"The foundation was given some land that was adjacent to the West Texas Training Center," explained Provost LeAnne Byrd. "Right now the students have to travel about 18 miles from one campus to the other. We would like to combine those into one location so it's easier for the students to get around."

The West Texas Training Center is a cooperative agreement between Howard College, Angelo State University and the San Angelo Independent School District. Howard College also owns a separate building which, Byrd said, has been outgrown due to enrollment increases in the past several years.

According to Byrd, the San Angelo campus has seen a growth rate of 5 percent in the last five years, excluding this past year when growth dropped to 2 percent.

"If we use the 5 percent figure, we've had the prior five years, our anticipated growth will be at 3,000 students in 10 years," she said.

Howard College has served the San Angelo area since the 1970s and has owned a building in the city since the early 1990s.

In other business, trustees:

• Tied up loose ends concerning the Visual and Performing Arts Center project. Their actions including approval of a contract with Architect Phil Furqueron for architectural services, to pay $31,650 in fees already incurred in services related to the project and $25,230 in fees from the original remodeling of the old theater that was eventually scrapped for new construction.

• Instituted a $20 lab fee for an accounting course and a math course and raised the price of a tool kit for a building trades class from $475 to $550.

• Were updated on the continuing process of working with area community colleges to provide allied health programs.

• A $72,768 bid from Johnston Construction for renovation of the SWCID resource center; a $13,895 bid from Johnston Construction for renovation for the SWCID annex courtyard concrete sidewalks and rejected a bid for the Horace Garrett Building for air-conditioning work. According to Dennis Churchwell, director of purchasing, the one bid returned came in above the allotted project budget. Trustees gave permission to Churchwell to accept any bid that comes in under budget.

• The hiring of Rita Crockett, a speech teacher and Cadet Bryant, an English teacher. Also the resignations of Martin Tuck, a general studies teacher; Donna Guthrie, director of workforce at San Angelo; and Leonard Grady Storie, special projects manager. Trustees accepted the resignations of Adolph Labbe, associate professor for music, and Delia Ortega, men's dorm supervisor.

Contact Staff Writer Lyndel Moody at 263-7331, ext. 234, or by e-mail at

Copyright © 2004 The Big Spring Herald