Lone Star College-Magnolia Center, a satellite of LSC-Montgomery, will open in fall 2021 after more than four years of planning, officials said.

Voters approved a $485 million bond referendum for the Lone Star College System in November 2014, which included $28.9 million for the LSC-Magnolia Center project. LSC-Montgomery President Rebecca Riley said officials had specific requirements for the new center’s location, which caused delays in choosing a site.

“We must’ve looked at 20 different pieces of land trying to find the right place,” she said.

LSCS officials announced purchasing land for the center in late January.

The new center—located on 35 acres and spanning 65,000 square feet—will be located at 505 FM 1486. The site is just north of Magnolia West High School and near the expected location of a Hwy. 249 toll road extension, a Texas Department of Transportation project slated to finish in early 2021.

Riley said traditional general education courses—including biology, English, math and government—will be offered to students who could then transfer to a four-year university or transfer to receive an associate degree.

Demand for higher education

Plans for LSC-Magnolia Center were driven in part by Montgomery County’s rapid growth, Riley said.

The county saw its population increase 10.5 percent from 2014-17, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

Riley said LSCS has maintained plans for a Magnolia Center since voters in Magnolia ISD elected to join the LSCS taxing district in 1998. After that election, homeowners within MISD boundaries began contributing funds to the system through property taxes.

LSCS centers are satellite campuses that serve as extensions of full campuses. Typically smaller than a full campus, centers provide classrooms and basic student services, according to LSCS information. The last center that opened in the Tomball and Magnolia areas was LSC-Creekside Center in January 2016.    

Systemwide enrollment growth has also contributed to the need for the center, Riley said.  More than 89,000 students were enrolled at campuses in fall 2018, an 8 percent increase since 2013, LSCS data shows.

More than 15,000 students enrolled at LSC-Montgomery in fall 2018—a number not projected for the campus until 2025, according to a report by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, which studied enrollment trends from fall 2013 to fall 2017.

Future course plans

Each LSCS center has a focus, Riley said. For example, LSC-Conroe Center has a welding, machining and automotive focus. However, Magnolia’s focus is still to be determined, she said.

“We can go in and say, ‘We’re building a welding lab,’ ... but maybe that’s not what the community needs,” Riley said. “We want to help with whatever the community and school district decide are the priorities for them.”

LSC-Montgomery officials plan to host listening sessions in Magnolia to gather public opinion on what types of workforce programs community members want to see offered at the center, Riley said. One session may be held this fall with two more in spring 2020.

Although course programming is not final, Riley said she looks forward to giving Magnolia residents closer access to higher education.

“I think when it’s all said and done, it’s going to be something that the community will be very proud of,” Riley said. “It’s all about providing access to what people need where it’s needed—close to home.”