Livingston — The Livingston Parish School Board on Thursday agreed to give 12.3 acres of undeveloped land to the state in exchange for a community and technical college.
The parish does not have a community college. Under the terms of the recently passed cooperative endeavor agreement, the School Board will transfer a tract of land behind the Livingston Parish Literacy and Technology Center in Walker for the construction of a Northshore Technical Community College campus.
The National Center for Higher Education Statistics studied the region and determined Livingston Parish was ripe for a new college campus, said NTCC Chancellor Will Wainwright. The government study determined the area would especially benefit from training more students in high-demand fields like health science, advanced manufacturing and nursing, Wainwright said.
College leaders have not yet determined what courses will be offered at the new campus. Many details are still being hammered out. NTCC still needs to drum up about $200,000 in local funding and has not committed to a groundbreaking date.
Wainwright expects the construction to cost about $5 million in total, though the state will foot most of the bill. The chancellor estimates somewhere between 500 and 700 students may enroll in classes when the site is completed; however, depending on the course catalogue, the school “could exceed that, easily.”
Between online classes in fields like criminal justice and high school students, who will dual enroll with parish schools, the number of students could rise “well over 1,000,” Wainwright said.
The new NTCC campus will be built next to the Literacy and Technology Center, a joint venture between the parish and Southeastern Louisiana University. SLU administrators see their soon-to-be neighbors as a boon, as the two schools have collaborated in the past.
“Us working together makes a lot of sense. … It’s been a great partnership,” said SLU Director of Programs Joan Gunter, who works at the site.
The schools have a “Connect to Success” venture in which students who aren’t eligible to enroll at SLU can join the university after earning 18 general education credit hours at NTCC.
“It benefits both of us,” said SLU Assistant Vice President for Academic Programs Jeff Temple.
Livingston Superintendent John Watson said the parish had been working with the state for over a year on the agreement for the future NTCC site. The school system has owned the land for about 15 years, and, at various times, it was considered for a library branch or a possible school expansion. None came to fruition, and the land to be transferred is undeveloped woods and pasture.
The state must develop the land as a college campus but will otherwise be responsible for its use, including building its own parking lot, Watson said. He said there are talks to include a new entrance to the site from Burgess Avenue in addition to the current entrance off Florida Boulevard.
In other business, the School Board voted to issue $25 million in bonds to Robert W. Baird & Co., a Milwaukee-based financial firm. The bond money will fund a number of improvements to schools in the Walker district, especially Walker High.
The high school will get about 32 new classrooms, administrative offices, a library, cafeteria, band room, athletic facilities and space for vocational programs.
NTCC has other campuses, including in Hammond, Greensburg, Slidell and Covington.