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HCC officials seek county help for renovations

March 02, 2005|by TARA REILLY

tarar@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY - Hagerstown Community College plans to turn three of its buildings into an arts and science complex, a $15.2 million renovation project that would create more instructional space and modernize the buildings.

HCC officials discussed the plan with the Washington County Commissioners on Tuesday.

They asked the commissioners for $6.3 million of the project's cost over a four-year period.

During that time, HCC is asking the county to pay $2.2 million toward the project in fiscal year 2008, $1.4 million in fiscal year 2009, $2.1 million in fiscal year 2010 and $526,080 in fiscal year 2011.

The state would pay $8.9 million of the project's cost. The project is included in the county's proposed Capital Improvement Program for fiscal years 2006 to 2011.

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Under the proposal, HCC would connect the Classroom Building, Science Building and Kepler Theater "so students could flow from one to the other without going outside," HCC President Guy Altieri told the commissioners.

The buildings are about 40 years old and have had no major renovations, Altieri said.

"Our plan is to connect them and pick up additional square feet between the buildings," he said after the meeting.

The project would add 30,000 square feet for instructional space, which Altieri said is needed because of HCC's rising enrollments.

Altieri said after the meeting that the number of students taking credit courses at HCC has grown by 37 percent over the last three years.

Donna Rudy, dean of student affairs, said 3,437 credit students are enrolled this semester, which is about 6 percent more than this time last year. HCC anticipates more students enrolling in credit courses in March, when a 71/2-week session and a five-week session begin.

HCC served 14,000 students - 5,000 credit students and 9,000 students enrolled in noncredit continuing education courses - at the end of fiscal year 2004, which was June 30, Altieri said.

Once renovated, the arts and science complex would house arts, humanities, social sciences and performing arts classes and contain expanded science facilities, Altieri said after the meeting. The lobby in Kepler Theater would be expanded to hold bigger crowds, he said.

The complex is one of several construction projects HCC is planning.

Renovations to the Career Programs building begin this summer, Altieri said. The project includes the addition of 6,000 square feet for new and expanded programs.

The college's construction budget for fiscal years 2006 to 2011 is $41.3 million. Of that, $23.3 million would come from the state, while $17.9 million would come from the county, according to the budget.

County Commissioner James F. Kercheval said that HCC's money request to the county jumped by about $8 million over last year's request. Last year, HCC sought $10.6 million over the six-year construction budget that was released last year, he said.

"How we're going to squeeze $8 million into this budget, I don't see how that's going to happen," Kercheval said.

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