Project updates focus for Howard College trustees Monday

A new time, indeed, but familiar topics will greet Howard College's board of trustees Monday.Expansion is the focus as trustees and college officials will convene at 6:30 p.m. to discuss growth at the San Angelo and SouthWest Collegiate Institute for the Deaf campuses. The board normally meets at noon, but the time was pushed back this week to give staff more time to prepare.Howard College is considering constructing two buildings at its San Angelo campus, located at the West Texas Training Center.“We've simply run out of room,” explained Dr. Cheryl Sparks, Howard College president. “The population growth has been significant on our San Angelo campus. We're serving close to 3,000 students a semester.”One of the two proposed buildings, which will be adjacent to the training center and paid for through student fees, would contain classroom space. The other would house a library and student services.Closer to “home,” an increase in SWCID students has led to a need for more accommodations.“In the fall we brought in four FEMA trailers and were granted a five-year (zoning) variance from the city. We are now in the process of putting together something called SWCID Village to help offset our housing needs,” said Sparks.SWCID Village will consist of up to 15 bungalows (apartments), paid for through grants and private donations, and make the transition from temporary (FEMA trailers) to permanent housing.Meanwhile, trustees should get good news Monday concerning Phase 2 of the G.C. Broughton Ag Complex, which is the show barn, and will learn more about Phase 3, the ag center's education building. Funds for the entire project have been made available through the Broughton Foundation.Also, the board will be updated on Title 5 grants through the federal government. One, in its second year, focuses on preparing students for college. The second grant focuses on STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), which is another program designed to make the transition to college easier.Trustees will also learn that despite an overall growth during the past 10 years, the Howard College district has dropped in the number of students from 5,111 in the spring of 2011 to 4,846 this spring — down 5 percent overall. Other items on the agenda include investment reports, catalog and handbook changes, interlocal agreements and an order for the May 12 board election.Trustees will convene in the Tumbleweed Room of the Student Union Building. The public is welcome.