By Leonard Combs and Collin Overton

The EKU Board of Regents voted unanimously at their Nov. 15 meeting in Model Laboratory School to halt increases in tuition costs for the 2018-2019 year.

The tuition “freeze” was proposed by President Michael Benson in a campus-wide email Nov. 8. Barry Poynter, vice president and treasurer of finance and administration, officially brought the motion to the Board.

Faculty Regent Richard Day said the freeze could serve as “a strategic plan that would hope to attract more students at our current tuition level to offset what we might have lost by jacking up tuition.”

While students won’t face a spike in their tuition, the same cannot be said for additional fees. The Board approved a meal plan rate increase of 3.5 percent, along with an increase of up to 3 percent in housing fees.

The freeze follows a slight decrease in enrollment since enrollment spiked in 2015. Enrollment decreased from 16,844 students in 2015 to 16,881 in 2016. 2017 introduced a more significant drop, with 16,644 students enrolled as of Oct. 15 – 237 students less than last year.

The Board also voted to begin Model Laboratory School’s application with the state of Kentucky to become a charter school.

Model would become the first official charter school in Kentucky, but not without raising concerns over which students could attend it.

Since Model scores above the bottom five percent of schools in the state, it isn’t eligible to become a conversion charter school, Department of Government and Economics chair Lynnette Noblitt said. Model will instead have to apply as a new charter school, meaning they’re required to start from scratch with their student body and can only enroll students that live in Madison County. Some of Model’s current students live in Estill, Fayette, and Rockcastle counties, among others, Noblitt said.

“I know there are a lot of unknowns still,” Noblitt said at the meeting. “The task force explains that we may have to empty the hallways of Model to be able to convert it to a charter school, and I would ask the Board to carefully keep in mind exactly how much this charter school would cost us.”

Noblitt has two children who attend Model.

Other highlights from the meeting included:

– The student life, discipline and athletics committee reported that all EKU athletic teams met NCAA Academic Progress Rate (APR) standards  for 2016-2017.  These standards are measured by student athletes’ academic performance and retention. Women’s golf received a perfect score of 1,000 points.

-The Board accepted an audit from Crowe Horwath, a public accounting firm, that found “nothing of significant concern”  with the university’s expenditures.

– It was announced that on the Feb. 7 opening of Case Dining Hall, students will be able to bring three friends or family members to eat at no additional cost.

– EKU is looking for two students to visit Frankfort on Feb. 6 for Colonels at the Capitol. These students will have the opportunity to speak to state representatives.

-Diverse students make up 12.2 percent of all EKU students, an increase from Fall 2016’s recording of 11.6 percent.

The Board of Regents will reconvene on Feb. 6 in Frankfort, in conjunction with Colonels at the Capitol. The Eastern Progress will provide additional coverage of those events, as well as the  tuition freeze, Model Lab School, and additional developments on topics from the board meeting. Coverage can be found at http://www.easternprogress.com/ or in the Nov. 30 and Dec. 7 issues.