Ozarks schools asked to support junior college

Tuesday, October 2, 2001

OSAGE BEACH, Mo. -- Taking college-level courses could become more convenient for residents of three mid-Missouri counties under a proposal to bring a community college to the Lake of the Ozarks area.

Proponents of the plan are asking school boards in Camden, Miller and Morgan counties to endorse the formation of a community college district, which would require voter approval. Funding for the community college would come from property taxes, student fees and state aid.

The effort is led by a steering committee made up of business leaders, educators and employees of municipalities in the area.

"Currently, students seeking a two-year post secondary degree either have to leave the lake area, pay higher costs at a private facility that offers programs locally or use State Fair Community College," said Nicki Foster, who chairs the committee.

"A lake area community college would offer lower tuition costs, local control and have a direct economic impact on our area," Foster said.

State Fair Community College offers satellite classes in the three-county area, but its main campus in Sedalia is about 50 miles from Osage Beach.

A feasibility study will be completed once the committee knows which school districts support the proposal. If all goes as planned, the issue could go to voters in April 2003, Foster said.

Voters also would be asked to elect a six-member board, which would make policy and pick a site for the community college. Until a campus is built, Foster said, classes probably would meet in temporary facilities.

Foster said the community college would benefit the community by offering opportunities for specialized training.

"A big problem in community growth and development is the shortage of trained manpower," Foster said. "With a local governing board, those issues can be addressed.

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