Navarro College is sowing the seeds of education by expanding its new campus in Midlothian.

Due to high enrollment, plans have been stepped up to build the second phase of the campus, which is located off of U.S. Highway 287 and Mount Zion Road.

“The reason why we need this building so fast is because enrollment is a lot greater now. Originally, this building was to be built in 2014 and we thought the existing building would last us until then,” said Dr. Harold Nolte, president of Navarro College’s Ellis County campuses.

“In terms of enrollment, we are at what they expected us to be at in 2014. In 2006, when that first building opened, we were at 235 students and now it is up to 1,041 students. So we are definitely over capacity.”

The second phase of the project has received unanimous approval from the Midlothian City Council, Economic Development Board and the college board of trustees.

The project will start selling about $4 million in bonds needed to fund the expansion. After the bonds are sold, an architect will put the project out to bid.

“The first building is the only existing structure for the Midlothian campus. It is built for instruction and administration. It also has a bookstore, library and student lounge. It is 25,000 square feet. The second building is the same in size but will be used for classrooms and faculty offices,” said Dr. Cubie Ward, dean Midlothian campus. “Ellis County is becoming extremely important to Navarro because 44 percent of students come from Ellis County. That number is getting bigger each year.”

The city of Midlothian has donated up to 25 acres for the college to build on and $500,000 as an in-kind gift of groundwork such as utilities and streets work.

Students attending the Midlothian campus will be offered the same core courses – such as math, history, English and science – that are offered at the other campuses. However, Midlothian will also offer more technical-related programs with an emphasis on multimedia classes, ranging from Web page design to Photoshop to page layout.

“The whole thing is to teach students how to work on the Internet with all of the various applications. We are also going to do secretarial training on things like office technologies. We will also be involved in welding, but not at that building,” Ward said.

“We have a partnership with Texas A&M Commerce where students can receive a bachelor’s degree and that is one program that is growing really fast,” he said. “When it started at Midlothian it had 53 students in it for the fall semester of 2006. Now it is almost 200. It’s an interdisciplinary studies degree with teaching certification for elementary through eighth grade.”

Ward noted that the Midlothian campus has 250 students involved in teacher training and is expected to have 300 enrolled for the fall. The new building should be completed and ready to receive students beginning in the fall of 2010.

E-mail Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com