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Heartland to consider borrowing $12 million for maintenance and IT needs

Heartland Community College
Heartland Community College is expected to issue more than $12 million in bonds to pay for various projects.

Heartland Community College plans to borrow $12.1 million to cover general maintenance and IT upgrades.

The school's board of trustees is expected to vote on the plan during its regular monthly meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

President Keith Cornille said the school issues bonds every few years for maintenance, adding now is a good time to borrow since interest rates have stabilized after rising from historic lows earlier this year.

“We are in a position where now would be a good time for us to move on that, not knowing what will happen four to six months from now,” Cornille said.

He said it will take eight years to pay off the debt, noting the bonds won't impact the district's tax rate.

Cornille said the money will pay for new equipment for HCC's IT network and refurbish older equipment. He said facilities projects include a boiler replacement and other maintenance needs.

Fall enrollment

Cornille said Heartland projects a slight increase in enrollment for the fall semester based on applications submitted.

“Most community colleges are seeing negative enrollments. We have been on the opposite side of that trend for a number of semesters, and fall is looking good, especially with new students,” Cornille said.

He said Heartland’s stackable certificates through its work ready programs and its workforce equity initiative to attract minority and low-income students have helped boost enrollment. Heartland’s new agriculture complex also attracting more interest from students in its ag classes, though the facility won’t be open until 2024.

Cornille said Heartland’s enrollment also is seeing gains from former Lincoln College students who transferred after the four-year school closed earlier this year. Heartland, which has a campus in Lincoln, offered displaced students an opportunity to help continue their coursework, and plans to have 28 former Lincoln College students taking classes during the fall semester.

Illinois State University estimates it will have 40 former Lincoln College students this fall.

Eric Stock is the News Director at WGLT. You can contact Eric at ejstoc1@ilstu.edu.