A new state law that went into effect in June of 2018 provides that a community college, in areas of the state that are not served by a community college taxing district, can seek voter approval within a school district to attach to a district.
Bringing a community college to Lake of the Ozarks is up for discussion with the passage of a new law that changes how districts can be expanded.
Representatives of Ozarks Technical College will be visiting the lake area in April and May to meet with school and city leaders to explore an effort to expand local educational opportunities.
As the cost of traditional four year colleges continues to rise, community colleges are an affordable alternative to prepare students for the workforce or transition to a four-year college.
In April OTC will be meeting with School of the Osage and in May, the city of Camdenton.
A new state law that went into effect in June of 2018 provides that a community college, in areas of the state that are not served by a community college taxing district, can seek voter approval within a school district to attach to a district. With voter approval, a levy would then be assessed to support the community college.
OTC’s main campus is located in Springfield. The community college district has campuses in Nixa, at Table Rock in Hollister as well as locations in Lebanon and Waynesville, offering 40 different degree programs. OTC is the third largest community college in Missouri.
The city of Camdenton initially reached out to OTC about providing the community with educational opportunities.
OTC Chancellor Hal Higdon said in conversations with city and school district leadership, OTC shared its experience with constructing the Richwood Valley and Table Rock Campuses. These campuses, serving similarly sized communities, provide an example of the facilities, economic impact, and scope of technical and health care programming that a comprehensive community college can provide.
Based upon these conversations, the Camdenton city leadership issued the invite for OTC to present on the possibility of a Lake of the Ozarks area campus in late May. Additionally, School of the Osage has invited OTC to present to the Board of Education in April on this as well, he said.
“As a community college it is important that this discussion, and any decisions, is driven by local residents and community leaders. We appreciate the Lake of the Ozarks community’s interest in providing residents with access to higher education and workforce development opportunities,” Higdon said. “We are excited to be a part of these conversations and explore partnership options for OTC to provide comprehensive service for the Lake of the Ozarks area.”
The decision to join a community college district is completely local. The local voters of the area vote on whether to join the community college district. If they vote yes, then they become members of the taxing district. (OTC’s rate is 20 cents on $100.00 of assessed valuation, the lowest in the state.) The citizens would then qualify for the lower in-district tuition and the community college would then be able to build a campus in the area.
Higdon said the he lake area, with its growing population and economy deserves a comprehensive community college campus.
Camdenton City Administrator Jeff Hancock said there’s the potential for a $15-$20 million dollar campus to be built to serve the lake area where local students would get a tuition discount and be able to use the A+ program.
The A+ Scholarship Program provides scholarship funds to eligible graduates of A+ designated high schools who attend a participating public community college or vocational/technical school, or certain private two-year vocational/technical schools.
Students participate in the A+ program while attending an A+ approved high school.
The program has guidelines for attendance. academics and community service. The program provides tuition at approved community colleges for degree programs or to transfer to a four-year college.
OTC serves more A+ students than any other community college in the state.