Spokane Journal of Business

SCC readies pitch for big project

School says replacement of science building would help it meet industry needs

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The next session of the Washington Legislature is eight months away, but Spokane Community College officials already are seeking to rally support for a $15.7 million capital project they consider key to the college providing more graduates for a number of high-demand professional fields.

The project would replace all but a small portion of SCCs 30-year-old science building, located on the east side of the colleges 108-acre campus at Greene Street and Mission Avenue. The 31,000-square-foot structure is used mostly by the colleges science and math departments, which offer a range of courses that students pursuing careers in nursing, biotechnology, and other health care-related disciplinesalong, of course, with students in other areas of studyare required to complete.

SCC has been forced to limit the number of students in the two departments because of a lack of instructional space there, caused partly by an antiquated open-classroom design that no longer fits the colleges needs, school officials say.

The building has a number of other major deficiencies, including poor access for the disabled, poorly configured labs, inadequate safety features, a deteriorating lighting system, and scattered administrative offices, they say.

The need is critical, asserts SCC President Doris Givens.

The current science building, she says, is configured in such a way that its impossible to schedule classes without either low-level or high-level chaos occurring. A whole group of students have to go through one classroom to get to another. It is being used in a way that it was not designed to be used.

Replacement of the science building is Community Colleges of Spokanes top-priority capital project for the 2003-2005 state biennium, and SCC officials would like to see design work on the project get under way next year and construction begin in July 2004.

What concerns them is that the project has been ranked only 52nd out of 57 on a capital-project list for the next biennium prepared by the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges, and may be dropped if the Legislature doesnt fund the $488.6 million capital request fully. They note that the SCC project is one of only seven projects on the east side of the state that made the list, and its the only one in the Spokane area.

I think were doing what we can do (to accommodate as many students as possible), but a new building is essential, says Rob Hauck, SCCs dean of liberal arts and vocational-related education.

He says the current science building has been remodeled a number of times over the years, but has reached a point where simply replacing it makes the most sense, both financially and academically.

School officials hope to begin meeting soon with Spokane-area legislators to lobby for the project and will be pursuing other efforts to generate community support for it, says Anne Tucker, Community Colleges of Spokanes associate vice chancellor for marketing and public relations.

As evidence of the high demand for more graduates in health care-related fields, SCC officials note that the school recently received a grant from Inland Northwest Health Services, of Spokane, thats aimed at boosting enrollment in its nursing program.

They also point out that SCC has been solicited by local industry, through the Inland Northwest Technology Education Center (Intec), to develop a biotechnology program to provide trained workers needed for the budding biotech industry here. It recently began setting up the program in the Holley Mason Building downtown, due partly to a lack of space in its science building, for launch this fall.

Lewis Rumpler, Intecs director of biomedical technology and chief financial officer, says, As we try to create an architecture for how we build a biotech cluster, making sure the community colleges have state-of-the-art capabilities will be very important.

Intec and SCC already have collaborated to raise nearly $1 million in grant money from various sources for development of a biotech curriculum, Rumpler says, and he adds that he expects Intec will lend active support to SCCs efforts to upgrade its facilities. Aside from grant funding, Hauck says Spokane-area technology businesses have donated a considerable amount of equipment to SCC.

As presently envisioned, if the science-building project is funded, about 80 percent, or 25,500 square feet, of the current science building would be demolished, and a two-story addition would be constructed that would give the building a total of about 53,600 square feet of space. The new space would be built in two phases, part of it before the demolition work begins, so that classes could continue during the project. A final phase of the project would involve renovation of the roughly 5,400-square-foot portion of the building that wasnt demolished.

The construction cost is estimated at about $9.5 million, with furnishings, equipment, design services, taxes, and other miscellaneous expenses expected to push the total project cost to slightly over $15.7 million.

SCC representatives say the project would allow the college to increase classroom and lab space substantially and, through more efficient design, to eliminate disruptions caused currently by students and equipment passing through occupied classrooms and labs to get to other assigned areas. It also would allow the school to consolidate science and math department faculty, including some faculty members who currently have offices in other buildings on campus, they say.

The science building is located next toand closely linked academically tothe health-sciences building, a 70,000-square-foot structure that has been expanded and renovated over the last two years to accommodate a growing number of students and programs. Funding for that long-proposed project was sought by a coalition of Spokane-area leaders in the Legislatures 1999 session.

SCC says its science and math departments served the equivalent of about 773 full-time equivalent (FTE) students in the 2000-2001 academic year, and it expects that number to grow to about 1,100 by 2010, based on a projected 4 percent annual increase in state-funded FTE enrollment for the foreseeable future.

Kim Crompton
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