COLLEGE OF The Mainland moved one step closer to presenting its bond proposal to its board later this month, announcing on Tuesday an in-depth look at the $162.3 million bond it seeks to place on the ballot in November.
The bond, officially priced at $162,330,520, would be the first step toward expanding and modernizing the school. Much of the initial bond will be focused on building a new STEAM/Allied Health Building along with new buildings for Industrial Careers and a Student Success Building that would replace the venerable Student Center.
A meeting with the board is scheduled for June 25.
COM also unveiled the results of a community survey it did with 400 residents earlier this year. The survey, which was done by Baselice and Associates, showed that 58 percent would vote for the initial bond while 27 percent were against it. The number of those who would support the initial bond increased to 70 percent once they were more informed about how the bond would help the school, with 25 percent would vote against it.
“I anticipate the board will will approve this bond,” said Ryan Gregory, director of The Educated Vote. “We don’t want to win this with 51 percent approval. We want to win this with 100 percent approval.”
An “Initial Ballot” survey, which was asked before respondents were informed about COM or what the bond would be used for, showed tight results, with 45 percent supporting the bond and 45 percent against it.
Those surveyed had a very strong impression of COM, which received an 80 percent awareness and 67 percent saying they felt the school was very valuable to the community.
Nearly half of the bond — $72,526,740 — would go toward the new STEAM/Allied Health Building, a 160,000 square foot facility that would allow for a major expansion in COM’s Nursing Program. The building would house a Simulation Lab, two Simulation Lab Debrief Conference Rooms, three Skill Labs, a Psychiatric “Day Room” Simulation Lab and two 50-person Computer Labs for testing.
The building would also have new 1,500 square foot labs for the Civil Engineering, Chemical Engineering, Electrical Engineering and Mechanical Engineering programs while also having room for a new Surgical Tech program.
A new STEAM/Allied Health Building will also allow COM to have its Pharmacy Tech, Nursing Assistant, Medical Assistant and Medical Coding Programs to be centrally located inside of it. There would also be room for a new Communications Program as well as an expanded Cyber Security Networking Lab.
The new Industrial Careers Building would have an expanded Process Technology Program while also moving the Gulf Coast Safety Institute, OHST and HVAC programs back on campus. Perhaps the biggest benefit of the new Industrial Careers Building would be the relocation of the Campus Data Center into the 90,000 square foot facility, which would be a huge boost in the school’s attempt to further modernize its information capabilities. There would also be an Educational Technology Suite that would have 2,000 square foot Innovations Lab and a 2,000 square foot Instructional Assessment Lab.
COM projects the cost of the new Industrial Careers Building to be $40,796,292.
The new 60,000 square foot Student Success Center ($25,105,410) would give COM the chance to bring campus functions back to the main campus. The center would have a 2,400 square foot large event/board room, a pair of 750 square foot meeting/break-out rooms and a catering prep room. It would also bring functions such as the marketing and grant writing departments back on campus.
“Every single thing is for our students,” said COM President Dr. Warren Nichols. “This is in all of our best interests.”
The bond will also provide for expansion of the school’s current Physical Plant and will provide additions and renovations for the Fine Arts Building Theater. The Math and Science Building will receive needed replacements of its roof and skylight while the entire campus will see upgrades of its energy management systems and the underground data fiber cabling.
COM plans to demolish its police station, administration and enrollment center and technical vocational building in order to pave the way for the expansion it intends to pursue should the bond pass.
A successful bond would not greatly impact the school’s tax rate. COM had a tax rate of $0.2084 in 2017, an increase from $0.2023 from 2016.
The bond would be the first of what could be more bonds every 3-5 years in order to complete the entire Facilities Master Plan while also merging it with the school’s Academic Master Plan.