Reserve technical school planning major expansion

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, September 25, 2013

BY Kimberly Hopson

RESERVE – With a major expansion in the works for the coming years, South Central Louisiana Technical College’s River Parishes campus is gearing up for a big change.
SCL Technical College Director Earl Meador and Campus Dean Cindy Poskey said they plan to build a 25,000-square foot main building on the campus and a new welding facility. Tentative plans say the campus’s process instrumentation building will get an additional 9,000 square feet and its own parking lot. Offices in the campus’s current central building will also be expanded by 3,600 square feet and converted into a medical wing for students enrolled in the school’s medical programs.
Poskey said the medical classroom will be a replica of a real hospital with a nurses station, library and lab. The campus will also get two additional classrooms.
Poskey said the planned changes will be a 50 percent increase to on-campus facilities, a change that is sorely needed to meet the demands associated with the large influx of students paticipating in the school’s academic programs over the last few years. The increases will also mean the campus can offer more classes throughout the day.
“So if you say right now you have about 900 students on campus, you should be able to add about 450 more with that increase in facilities. We probably needed new facilities five years ago,” said Poskey.
The proposed changes are all thanks to Act 360, a bill that was approved during the 2013 legislative session in June to fund capital changes for the 29 colleges that make up the Louisiana Community and Technical College System. South Central Louisiana Technical College’s four campuses will receive a combined $10,930,500 in bonds for enchancements. The funding requires the recipient colleges to produce a 12 percent match of cash donations. Posky said SCL’s goal is $1.5. million, which is slightly higher than the 12 percent match.
“The student body is holding their breath waiting for it. They’re wanting more classes, having trouble getting the courses they need and are in full classrooms. We’re at capacity, and we’re shuffling schedules and everything else to fit the needs of the community,” said Meador. “As educators, it hurts when you know you have a class full and someone wants in, and you have to tell them you don’t have the space.”
In addition to the exciting new changes, Meador mentioned that the Louisiana Community and Technical College System recently visited all 13 technical colleges around the state, including the River Parishes campus to film footage for an upcoming campaign to promote vocational education. The campaign may also help the school’s fundraising process. Poskey and Meador said they expect to begin breaking ground by July 2015 if all goes well.
“Community colleges and technical education really get a bad rap. We’re trying to say that we’re not the same votech as years past. When we put a graduate out, we’re changing a trend. That person may have come to us as a minimum wage worker. That’s the really neat thing about technical education and what we do — when they leave here, they’re making a very good living,” Meador said.