College of the Mainland trustees Monday unanimously approved a contract for more than $900,000 with Houston-based PBK Architects to start design and blueprint work on a building proposed in a $162.5 million bond issue.
The firm this fall will begin planning a new science, technology, engineering and math building, which is a core element of the proposed bond referendum, officials said.
Voters in November will decide on the $162.5 million bond referendum to improve facilities and build three new buildings.
The November bond referendum would finance several capital projects, including a new building to house science, technology, engineering and math programs, a new industrial careers building and a new student success building.
The largest portion of the referendum — about $138 million — is proposed for the three new buildings.
The 160,000-square foot STEM and Allied Health building would include new programs such as surgical technology, physical therapy assistance and communications, Ruth Rendon, spokeswoman for the college, said.
The proposed 90,000- square foot industrial careers building would house the occupational safety technician and heating, ventilation and air conditioning programs, among others, Rendon said.
The planned 60,000- square foot student success building would replace the existing administration building, Rendon said.
College officials want to start design plans now on the science, technology, engineering and math building instead of waiting until after the referendum in November, President Warren Nichols said.
“What we have chosen to do is contract with PBK to start some of the preliminary schematic work for the building,” he said.
The college already has a $1.5 million contract with PBK, with a $12,000 portion of that contract dealing with communications with the public in the run up to the November election, officials said.
Officials have argued expanding the campus is necessary to keep pace with increasing student enrollment.
Enrollment at the college has grown by about 21 percent during the past 10 years, according to district figures.
During the fall 2008 semester, 3,561 students were enrolled. By the fall 2017, enrollment had grown to 4,328, Rendon said.
If approved, the bond would increase taxes on the average home in the district valued at about $120,800 by about $141 per year, officials said.
College leaders were optimistic about the referendum passing, Nichols said.
“We are as confident as anyone should be when we are taking this before the voters,” he said. “We certainly do not want to take anything for granted. But we are optimistic that the bond will pass. Based upon everything I have heard thus far, everything has been extremely positive.”