TJC plan could include 6 new residence halls: Master housing plan covers projected growth to 15, 000

Published on Thursday, 17 July 2014 17:48 - Written by Alma Linda Manzanares, amanzanares@tylerpaper.com

Six new residential halls could be built over the next 10 years on the Tyler Junior College campus.

TJC’s board of trustees heard a presentation on the college’s master housing plan Thursday during a regular board meeting.

Five of the six halls were focused on the west side of campus, mostly growing along Magnolia Drive. The last hall was placed on the east side of campus, north of Ornelas Hall.

TJC is expected to grow to an enrollment of 15,000 in the next 10 years, dramatically increasing the college’s housing needs, according to Michael Johnson, campus planner for Smith Group JJR.

Johnson said the college would need more than 2,000 beds to accommodate a student population of 15,000.

In fall 2013, the college had a student population of 11,308, with a 976-bed capacity within eight residence halls. Of the 976 beds, 915 beds were occupied by students.

To meet the growing demand, Johnson said the company looked at adding new resident halls, and renovating or replacing the college’s available residential halls within the next 10 years.

For example, Claridge Hall, which was built in 1964 and houses 82 beds, was recommended for renovation because it has minor issues.

Sledge Hall, which was built in 1976 and houses 68 beds, was recommended for demolition or replacement because it requires major improvements, such as adding a sprinkler system.

Other halls set for demolition over the 10-year span were Lewis and West halls.

TJC President Michael Metke said he felt the presentation accurately reflected the demand for housing on campus, especially with jobs in the medical field increasing, encouraging people to seek a higher education.

“We’re already seeing such a long waiting list of students who applied as early as February or March, and are not being placed in a hall,” he said. “There’s a lot more demand then there is supply.”

In related business, the board approved a $17.7 million guaranteed maximum price proposal for its new residence life hall.

The new residence hall is under construction between Magnolia Drive and Baxter Avenue. The hall is 68,000 square feet and will feature 250 beds, bringing the number of students living on campus to about 1,250.

The new residence hall is set for completion fall 2015.

In other news, trustees voted to maintain an existing tax rate of 19.99 cents per $100 valuation.

Although the tax rate did not increase, Metke said an increase in property valuations is expected, meaning higher property taxes for some property owners.

Sarah Van Cleef said although Smith County has not released certified values yet, property valuations are anticipated to increase by 2.6 percent, bringing an estimated additional $450,000 in revenue.

She said the additional revenue would go to the college’s operating budget or preservation fund.

Because the college will be receiving additional revenue, two public tax hearings are scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Aug. 14 and 11 a.m. Aug. 21 in the White Administrative Services Center Board Room on the TJC main campus, 1400 E. Fifth St.

In other business, the board voted to not recommend any employee salary raises.

“Because our enrollment picture isn’t clear for the fall and it’s hard to project revenues, if the revenues are available we still would like to do something for employees later in the year,” Metke said.

He said college officials are looking to increase the salary for adjunct faculty.

Metke said while figures have not been finalized, the adjunct salary is expected to increase from $1,800 to $2,000 for a three-hour course. He said the figures will be included in the fiscal year 2015 budget, which will be presented at the next board meeting. 

The next board meeting is scheduled for 11 a.m. Aug. 28 in the White Administrative Services Center Board Room on the TJC main campus, 1400 E. Fifth St