LACONIA — Lakes Region Community College will be offering off-campus student housing starting this fall at a 48-unit apartment building which will be built off Mile Hill Road less than a mile from the college campus by Anagnost Investments of Manchester.
Land clearing is already underway at the site and the college and developer are planing a ribbon cutting ceremony in the near future, according to LRCC President Scott Kalicki, who made the announcement at a breakfast for local lawmakers held at the college Friday morning.
He explained that the building will be leased by and managed by the college and is only the second student housing project in the seven-school N.H. Community College system.
''It will help us attract students from outside our area, including more out-of-staters,'' Kalicki told legislators, adding that it allow students to have the best of both worlds by providing the ability to live off campus while being within walking distance of their classrooms.
The student apartments will be run and operated exclusively by the college for LRCC students and will have two or three bedrooms, a living room and fully equipped kitchen as well as coin-operated laundry and a common area.
The Anagnost firm also plans to build another 48-unit apartment building as part of the same. The second building will be used for rentals to the public at market rates.
N.H. Community College system President Ross Gittell told lawmakers that the system is seeking flat funding in its new, two-year budget and wants an additional $3.2 million to further reduce tuition. He said lowering tuition, which currently is in the $5,000 to $6,000 range for full-time students, will enhance the educational and economic opportunities for students and help provide skilled workers for employers in the area.
He cited the success of the system's advanced manufacturing programs, which have seen enrollment increase by 60 percent for the 100 different programs which offered around the state. He said that currently total enrollment in the community college system is 27,000 and that the goal is to increase that to 37,000 in 10 years and to have 65 percent of adults with education beyond high school by 2025.
Kalicki said students at LRCC can take advantage of dual admission programs at UNH and Plymouth State University which will see them accepted as juniors at either school after two years at LRCC provided they maintain a 2.5 grade point average. He said that a pilot program will allow high school juniors to have dual enrollment at a community college and their local high school and enable them to graduate with ''a high school diploma in one hand and an associate's degree in another.''
Kalicki highlighted the school's advanced manufacturing program, which he said involves 21 local industries and the school's award-winning automotive program, which will soon have a brand new automotive complex.
Steve Hurst, parts manager at Cantin Chevrolet, said that the auto dealership employs five graduates from the LRCC program which enables the company to ''grow our own technicians.''
Gary Groleau of N.H. Ball Bearing and the state Board of Education said that he was pleased with what he sees in LRCC's advanced manufacturing programs in which students from the Huot Technical Center in Laconia move on to the college. ''They find their way right into the doors of our facility and are finding gainful employment with high paying jobs,'' said Groleau.
Steve Guyer, a member of the college's advisory committee and a recently retired head of the technical center at Kingswood Regional High School in Wolfeboro told legislators that the community college system provides a good return on investment and that it is important that the state maintain its support.
Noting that the state has an increasingly aging population he asked ''what are your kids and grandchildren going to do for jobs?'' and said developing a skilled workforce is an important priority for the state.
Steve Guyer, former head of the technical center at Kingswood Regional High School and a member of the advisory board at Lakes Region Community College, urges legislators to support the state Community College System at a legislative breakfast held at LRCC Friday morning. (Roger Amsdem/for The Laconia Daily Sun)
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