Lone Star College System's $500 Million Question (UPDATED)

Categories: Education

Tomorrow's a half-billion-dollar day.
Tomorrow's another big day for the Lone Star College System as it seeks to persuade voters that it needs a bunch more money -- $497.7 million -- to expand its facilities and who cares about those old Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board projections anyway?

Well some people do and they say this entire bond issue is a waste of time and money and that instead the college system ought to think about better use of the space it already has.

Currently holding at 78,000 students -- 90K if you factor in the non-credit and community education students according to Laura Morris Lone Star's Associate Vice Chancellor, Marketing & Communication -- Lone Star needs to expand to be able to service students face-to-face, Morris argues.

And any suggestion that employing more online courses to cut down on classroom needs is absolutely not the right way to go, Morris says. (Bucking a trend seen elsewhere in the country and in the Houston area.)

"We have a very robust Lone Star online, and we do a number of hybrid courses" she says. "But we know and research says that students are much more successful and complete their courses when they have face to face as well as online," she said. To ensure student success, she said, they need to bring students to campus.

The Coordinating Board projects an increase to 82,000 students by 2018. Lone Star begs to differ, saying it'll be 100,000 to 110,000 and that the lower number is "unreasonable." Morris says Lone Star's projected growth has been carefully evaluated by teams of professionals. "The Higher Education Coordinating Board does forecasts but it's not as precise as the research we do."

"What you have is some people don't understand how the numbers are calculated and use them incorrectly," said Morris, saying she wasn't referring to the Coordinating Board in making that statement.

"I'm talking about others who are taking the Coordinating Board forecast out of context."

The "others" she was alluding to would, we guess, include Elizabeth Jensen, candidate for a Lone Star trustee position, and Ronald Trowbridge, Lone Star English professor, both Ph.Ds, who oppose a yes vote in the May 11 election, saying they can't figure out the numbers.

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