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O-W Trustees Approve Budget, Tuition Increase, and Science Building Construction
NICEVILLE---The Okaloosa-Walton Community College District Board of Trustees approved a $24,450,312 college general operating budget for fiscal year 2004-2005 at its June 8 meeting.
Included in the budget is a provision for a five percent increase in student tuition at OWCC, action mandated by the Florida Legislature during the recent legislative session. Even with the increase, college officials say all OWCC tuition rates, including fees for upper-division courses offered through the new bachelor's degree programs, will be the lowest in Florida of any public college or university. The new fees take effect July 1 and will be $50.90 per credit hour in-state for freshman and sophomore courses and $60.84 for upper-division courses in the college's new business and nursing bachelor's degree programs.
The OWCC budget also provides for a three percent raise for OWCC staff and $8,167,672 in finding for campus-wide construction and renovation.
College trustees also approved an August 25 start date for construction to begin on a new 45,000 square foot Science building on the Niceville campus that will house all the college's biological, natural, and physical science programs. Site work on the project is currently in progress and competitive bids for the first phase of construction will be accepted July 13. The facility is anticipated to be completed in two years or less.
In other action, OWCC trustees re-elected Elizabeth Campbell of DeFuniak Springs to serve a second year as the chairman of the trustee board and Joseph Henderson of Fort Walton Beach to serve a second year as the Vice Chairman.
Trustees also approved a comprehensive five-year plan for the college's physical plant needs which will guide OWCC's requests for legislative funding for capital construction projects through 2010. Included in the plan was:
- an additional classroom building to expand the college's joint campus with the University of West Florida in Fort Walton Beach,
- a library/classroom building at the college's Chautauqua Center in DeFuniak Springs, and
- construction to initiate the master plan previously approved by trustees for a new college instructional location in South Walton County, which will become the college's seventh location.
Also in relation to the OWCC/UWF Fort Walton Beach Campus, trustees approved a property exchange between OWCC and Okaloosa County which will allow the county to straighten the Hurlburt Field Road. The property exchange will move the current road which divides part of the OWCC campus property and provide a usable tract of campus land not transversed by a road while allowing the county to resolve a safety concern by straightening the road and eliminating a dangerous curve.
To reflect the college's new name, Okaloosa-Walton College, which will take effect July 1, trustees approved name revisions for college-affiliated organizations including the "Okaloosa-Walton College Foundation" and the "OWC Collegiate High School". A new logo for the college, also reflecting the name change, was approved. All changes take effect July 1.
As the governing board for the OWCC Collegiate High School, trustees also approved a $1,268,512 budget for the school, which serves 10th, 11th and 12th grade students, for the 2004-05 fiscal year. Trustees reviewed the school's performance on the annual FCAT test and commended the school for achieving the highest scores in the district on all sections of the test and among the top scores in the state.
Trustees also selected, by competitive bid, college printing services from Medley Printing of Fort Walton Beach for $55,000, temporary employee services from Landrum Staffing Services of Pensacola for $75,000, and a purchase of 5 vehicles from Orville Beckford Ford for $73,791. Trustees also approved the commencement of contract negotiations with JRA Architects, Inc. of Panama City to serve as the college's architect for projects under $1 million and with Luxon Wireless of Fort Walton Beach to lease excess capacity on the college's Instructional Television Fixed Service frequencies.
In a briefing to trustees on legal matters, Joe Lorenz, the college's attorney, received trustee approval to refer a request for administrative hearing before the District board to the Department of Administrative Hearings in Tallahassee for the appointment of an administrative judge. Trustees also approved the use of college funds, under the guidelines of Florida statute 1012.85, to defray the cost for the college president to hire independent legal counsel to defend himself against allegations, related to his official job performance, that were recently filed by the Pensacola Gulf Coast Keepers in an amended lawsuit which seeks to prevent the sale by the OWCC Foundation of a portion of the property known as the Mattie Kelly Estate in Destin.