East Central College trustees gave approval Monday night to lease a larger space in Rolla to house the college’s nursing program.

East Central College trustees gave approval Monday night to lease a larger space in Rolla to house the college’s nursing program.
The college board will lease a 7,900-square-foot facility located at 2303 North Bishop Ave., north of Interstate 44 in Rolla, that formerly housed Columbia College.
Last year, Columbia College moved to a new campus on Blues Lake Parkway. Columbia College still owns the building, where ECC’s nursing program will relocate.
“Our enrollment in Rolla has reached a plateau that can only be exceeded if we have additional space,” said ECC President Jon Bauer. “The current space for the nursing program is no longer adequate.
ECC began offering classes at Rolla Technical Center in 1996. With increases in enrollment, in 2007 ECC’s nursing program moved to a 3,000-square-foot facility on Bridge School Road that the college has continued to lease from Phelps County Regional Medical Center.
In making her presentation to the ECC trustees, Jean McCann, vice president of instruction at ECC, noted that the space has served the program well but is at capacity when all the nursing students are in the facility.
“The students are separated from ECC’s main Rolla facility housed at RTC and the space cannot be used for other college offerings due to location and staffing,” she said.
“When the Missouri State Nursing Board visited the Rolla nursing facility in 2008, the Bridge School Road location was presented as temporary while the college examined its facility needs,” McCann said.
The nursing board is scheduled to visit the Rolla nursing facility this fall.
Christina Ayres, director of ECC’s operations in Rolla, said that for the past two years the college has also rented two classrooms at The Centre, a multipurpose facility run by the City of Rolla.
“We offer daytime classes there but we have the same issue of faculty and staff separated from our main operations and no faculty or staff workspace.”
Additional classrooms at the new leased space could be used for general education classes currently held at The Centre.
ECC officials estimate that modifications to the building will total $100,000 with much of the work performed by ECC facilities personnel.
Officials hope to move the nursing program into the new space for the start of the 2014 spring semester.
ECC will pay $12 per square foot ($7,900 per month) through 2016, subject to annual board approval.
The rate would go to $12.50 per square foot in fiscal year 2017 and $13 per square foot in fiscal year 2018.
The college currently leases the Bridge School Road building for $37,120 per year.     
“With this facility we can relocate our nursing operations to a site more convenient for students and integrate with our other operations,” said Bauer.
He also noted that the building would provide three additional full day general purpose classrooms, a classroom computer lab and 123 parking spaces.
Last fall more than 16 percent of ECC’s total enrollment (678 students) enrolled in 6,490 credit hours in Rolla.
Based on current enrollment, three general use classrooms would provide an additional 30 timeslots per week.
The potential for increased enrollment over the next three years ranges from 14 to 30 percent.
Prudence Fink Johnson, vice president of the ECC board, expressed concerns about spending funds outside of the taxing district. She said she was reluctant to put additional costs on the backs of district taxpayers.
“If the state wants us to be there and expand our services to a non-tax-paying service area, then the state needs to allocate the money instead of cutting our funding every year,” she said.  
Rolla is not in the college taxing district but is in the college service region as designated by the Missouri Department of Higher Education.
Out-of-district students pay $120 per credit hour in tuition and general fees, which is $31 per credit hour more than in-district students.
Trustees Charlie Betz, Tom Dill, Ann Hartley, Don Kappelmann and Jim Perry voted to approve the lease. Fink Johnson voted no.