Friday, March 19, 2010

District Board of Trustees Meeting - Spring Updates

ORLANDO, Fla. - The Board of Trustees for Valencia Community College met Tuesday to discuss such widely debated topics as course additions, grant proposals, and school budgets.

Ultimately, a few representatives (including select students,) will travel to Tallahassee to lobby for attention from the state government toward these issues.

Valencia is also introducing renewable energy training courses on the innovations of solar and wind power for Engineering and Engineering Technology students, to begin as early as this summer. In July, workshops will be held for all Community Colleges, provided by funding from various endowed chairs.

Dr. Deb Hall shared some information on last month's trip to Mastatal, Costa Rica, where students helped set up solar panels on the roofs of the houses of underprivileged families.

The school is taking another step in that direction. Valencia recently wrote a check for the ownership of property around Lake Nona, which will be used to build a new campus.

This campus will likely center around programs such as Engineering Technology. The first three years of development will be largely funded by philanthropic endeavors and fundraisers.

"Construction will take close to a year, just to break ground," said Valencia's President Dr. Sanford Shugart. Over the course of the summer, or as long as it takes, focus groups made up of students and faculty will be involved in naming the new building. As of right now, it is dedicated to its primary donor.

"The people of Lake Nona will definitely appreciate our contribution," Shugart said.

With the construction of this new campus, the goal is to curb the current over enrollment of Valencia for the future.

Dr. Joyce Romano and Dr. Kaye Walter's Spring enrollment report declared that there is currently a head count of 35,004 students attending classes college wide, up 9.1% from last year.

That's a total of 3147 more students.

While the average class size is still around 25 students, the Osceola campus is filled to 95 percent capacity. The school is going to add 6 to 10 more classrooms, temporarily, until requested funding comes through.

During the meeting, the Board of Trustees also discussed the bills planned for lobby at Tallahassee this year. They proposed new transportation opportunities for the students, advice for handling the exponential influx of students, and they are requesting a budget of $67 million from the state.

Shugart said this amount should cover the costs of funding the growth in enrollment. The school still needs to wrap up the construction for the Special Events Center on West campus, as well as other projects in the works throughout the college.

President of the Student Government Association for West Campus, Robert Stio, had some concerns regarding transportation issues for students, as well. He said there are not enough sidewalks around campus and that students are having larger issues with getting to and from school, in general.

Stio will propose to Governor Charlie Crist that students pay $6, per credit hour and once a year, for added routes and times for the Lynx bus in the area.

Considerations for a shuttle between East and West campus are currently up for debate.

The chairman of the Board of Trustees, Lew Oliver, said that in order to keep our school's success rate high, we as students, need to be able to make a difference in the political process.

"We can do this by mobilizing the students," Oliver said. "I don't think a single student has called a single legislator."

For anything to change, Governor Crist must decide which bills to veto and which to pass, this coming April.

Previously published in the Valencia Voice

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