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News Release

MCCS Trustees Endorse Plan to Expand Residential Housing

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

CONTACTS: Alice Kirkpatrick
(207) 767-0116 x 3;

AUGUSTA , Me. - The Board of Trustees of the Maine Community College System today authorized System President John Fitzsimmons to enter negotiations with Pizzagalli Construction Co. to design and construct new residence halls at Central Maine Community College in Auburn, Eastern Maine Community College in Bangor, and Southern Maine Community College in South Portland. The action was taken at a regularly scheduled Board meeting held at the MCCS office in Augusta.

The new facilities will help ease a housing crunch that is forcing some community colleges students to live at local motels and other facilities arranged by college staff.  Today’s action follows a year-long analysis of student housing needs, including a comprehensive market study.

“Expanding housing is critical if we are to meet current demand and continue attracting more young students into college,” said President Fitzsimmons. In three years, enrollment of immediate high school graduates has jumped fifty percent, and that growth is expected to continue.

Fitzsimmons said expanding student housing will also improve access for students who live far from a college campus, and those who want to pursue a specialty program not offered close to home. The alternative is to duplicate more programs, he said.

The three new residence halls will expand housing capacity by approximately 650 beds. Currently, 915 community college students (nine percent of degree students) live on campus or at area facilities. Of the 915, about 275 are living off-campus. Trustees also authorized President Fitzsimmons to enter negotiations with the Maine Health and Higher Education Finance Authority (MHHEFA) to use the System’s revenue bonding authority to finance the project. The project will cost an estimated $22.4 million, and will be paid off with room charges by students living in the facilities.

The negotiated contracts will be presented to the Board for final approval early this winter. Ground-breaking is planned for next summer or fall. Residence halls could be ready for occupation as early as fall 2007. Five of Maine’s seven Community Colleges currently have residence halls. In addition to CMCC, EMCC and SMCC, Northern Maine Community College in Presque Isle and Washington County Community College in Calais also have residence facilities. Kennebec Valley Community College in Fairfield and York County Community College in Wells do not have residential facilities.

Room and Board Rates
Also today, Trustees voted to raise the ceiling (the maximum rate) the colleges can charge for room and board, effective next academic year.  The maximum rates for each region are set by the Board based on a financial analysis of fair market value and comparable rates at local universities. The college presidents have the authority to set room and board rates up to the maximum rate, but cannot raise combined room and board charges more than ten percent annually. The last time the Board raised the rate ceiling was in spring 2003.

The new maximum rates range from $5,246 to $6,822 (prior rate ceilings ranged from $4,494 to $5,920). College presidents are not expected to set their rates for 2006-07 until next spring.  Residence halls are intended to be self-supporting, and not subsidized by non-residential students. (Current room and board rates and new rate ceiling.)

Other Board Action
In other action, Trustees also granted approval to Southern Maine Community College to offer an Associate in Science in Biotechnology. They also granted a one-year extension to prior temporary approval of a Surgical Technology program offered at Eastern Maine Community College; the program is offered in partnership with Eastern Maine Medical Center. Trustees also approved amended policies governing equal opportunity/affirmative action and sexual harassment.
The amendments are clarifications relating to process and contact information.

NMCC Students Recognized
Also at the meeting, Trustees recognized (via videoconferencing) four Northern Maine Community College instrumentation students who received a Gold Medal at the 2005 Instrumentation, Systems and Automation Society’s International Student Games in Chicago last month. The students who were recognized are: Bruce Ayotte of Presque Isle, Peter Starr of Mapleton, Jason Cote of Caribou, and David Hutchinson of Houlton. Their instructor and advisor, Charles (Chuck) Kelley, was also recognized. 

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