Gadsden State Community College plans to add classroom space at its Anniston campus to meet current and future demand for services, officials announced Monday.

The school is set to spend $3.85 million to add eight new classrooms and a 140-seat lecture hall to the Cheaha Career Center at the Ayers Campus, according to a press release. The Alabama Community College System board of trustees issued a $25 million bond last week to Gadsden State to help pay for projects including the addition, which officials say is needed to expand program services and increase enrollment.

The press release states that planning must be completed and the construction contract must be executed by March 31, 2018, for the building addition. The project is scheduled for completion in January 2019.

The $25 million bond will also help pay for construction of a science building at Gadsden State’s East Broad Campus and for renovations at Allen Hall on the Wallace Drive Campus, both in Gadsden. The science building is expected to be built by August 2019 while the Allen Hall renovations have an April 2019 completion date.

The bond issue will be repaid mainly with a new $12 per credit hour building fee that will become effective this fall.

“We are one of a few community colleges in the state that has not utilized a special building fee to improve the infrastructure of our campuses,” Martha Lavender, president of Gadsden State, said in the press release. “The bond debt service will be paid with the new building fee along with tuition, auxiliary funds and other revenues if needed.”

The press release states the 21,310-square-foot addition to the Cheaha Career Center addresses the need for more general education classes at the Anniston campus, which support Gadsden State’s career technical and transfer programs. The Cheaha Career Center is mainly used to help residents find jobs.

“We needed additional classroom space to support our career tech and transfer programs,” said Jackie Edmondson, spokeswoman for Gadsden State. “Our student enrollment calls for the addition.”

Edmondson added that the Ayers Campus is currently at 100 percent capacity.

Enrollment numbers for the Ayers Campus were unavailable Monday.

Edmondson said the career center would still be used to help people find employment.
Meanwhile, the science building will be constructed on the corner of Wallace Drive and East Cardinal Drive next to Gadsden State’s One Stop Center. It will replace 50-year-old Browder Hall, which is located on the Wallace Drive Campus. The new building will have more than 57,000 square feet of classrooms, laboratories, offices and an auditorium.

Renovations to Allen Hall, the oldest building on the Wallace Drive campus, include upgrading bathrooms, electrical, plumbing and heating/cooling systems.

“The new construction and renovations are consistent with Gadsden State’s strategic plan, which we define as the 3I’s — instruction, infrastructure and institution,” Lavender said. “Our plan focuses on not only quality educational programming and continuous improvement but also on addressing the infrastructure needs of aging facilities.”

 

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.