Bill will allow FKCC to expand its dormitory space

Gov. Rick Scott has signed a bill that will allow Florida Keys Community College to have more than double the amount of dormitory space it has on its Stock Island campus.

There is currently room for 100 students at the college’s Lagoon Landing dorm, which opened in August 2011, and the new law would allow the school to place 200 more beds on campus. There are no immediate development plans at this time, school officials said.

While the law does not specifically mention FKCC, it contains language that only allows such dorms in areas of critical state concern, where development is extremely limited and housing can be expensive. The Florida Keys is among a handful of areas of critical state concern.

“I am so happy that our Governor has signed into law the bill relating to Florida Keys Community College that Senator (Anitere) Flores and I sponsored,” said state House Rep. Holly Raschein. “Housing is a major factor in a student’s ability to obtain a higher education, and affordable student housing is in extremely short supply in the Keys. This law allows FKCC to continue to grow and add affordable student housing and increases access to educational opportunities for our students.”

A red-hot Keys real estate market has made finding an affordable apartment difficult, if not impossible, especially for a college student on a budget.

The law also comes at a time when the campus has begun to offer four year degrees. Starting this August, FKCC will begin offering its first bachelor’s degree in applied science in supervision and management, according to college spokeswoman Amber Ernst-Leonard.

The degree is still pending approval from the crediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, but the agency has told the college that it can start marketing the degree in its literature, so approval seems imminent.

The school are working on adding additional four-year degrees in the future.

“We are appreciative that Gov. Scott and our legislators have recognized the unique housing challenges for students at Florida Keys Community College,” FKCC president Jonathan Gueverra said. “We are especially grateful to Representative Raschein and Senator Flores who championed this bill through the House and the Senate.”

Expanding the residence hall is one piece to the affordable housing puzzle in the Keys, Gueverra said.

“The vast majority of FKCC’s resident students work in front-line jobs. Not only does on-campus housing provide an academically-enriched living environment for those students, it also provides a safe and affordable housing option for a section of our workforce that is already comprised of college students,” Gueverra said.

tohara@keysnews.com

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