The Houston board of education unanimously approved a measure Monday that will ask school patrons to join the Ozarks Technical Community College District, a move that would offer greatly reduced tuition costs to students and customized training for employers.
The issue will likely appear on the ballot in August. Ozarks Technical Community College says it wants to locate a campus in Texas County. The college is one of 20 of the fastest growing community colleges in the nation. Joe Richardson III, chair of the Houston steering committee, told school board members the chance to join the OTC network “was a very unique opportunity” that would “do a lot of good things.”
“There are no negatives to this,” Richardson said. He noted that the college would construct a facility and also tailor curriculum to fit the needs of the communities in the county. Classes would not only be for college-age students, but “old and young alike,” he said. He noted there would also be classes for seniors. College officials say older residents often take classes, are supportive because OTC improves the community, maintaining their real estate value and creating a pool of qualified health workers to care for them.
A simple majority is required for passage. The issue calls for a 15-cent per $100 assessed valuation. A person who owns a $100,000 house would pay about $28 annually. The median home value in Texas County is about $61,000.
If the issue passes, students gain generous breaks when attending an OTC campus. Normally, the cost is $112 per credit hour. If the issue passes, the charge is $81 per credit hour – a break of about 28 percent.
Texas County Memorial Hospital CEO Wes Murray said the training would allow him to hire county residents rather than go outside his service area to employ workers.
“I want to hire within our service area,” Murray said, noting the education opportunities afforded will allow that to happen. Currently, he doesn’t always have local residents who have the proper education to fill spots. In last seven years, he said about 122 have been added to the TCMH payroll. Salary and benefits now approach about $14 million annually.
There also are other benefits, he said. Better educated residents earn more income, and more training also translates into a lower unemployment rate.
I want to hire within our service area.