We believe voters will approve this bond, stressed Fortine, “because the college has proven, time and time again, that it is dedicated to helping local students, professionals and employers meet their educational and business goals – from nursing to technology-based careers to giving local high school students a jump start toward four-year degrees. The college has excelled,” concluded Fortine, “in nearly everything it has undertaken in the many years I have been associated with it and I am convinced that investment in the future of the college is a smart move that will pay dividends to the community long after we are gone.” The four-member board, one seat is vacant due to a resignation, was presented with in-depth information by college staff at a public, information meeting on August 7, about the projects that would be funded by a bond.
They heard that there is a dire need to increase the number of classrooms and labs for the training of critical professions, such as nurses, emergency medical technicians, firefighters and law enforcement officers as well as needing more classrooms to serve a growing population of local students who need to take classes that will allow them to transfer to 4-year schools and to get training to enter the workforce.
This is a particular problem for working adults who can only take classes at night. Board members were told that 60 percent of the students who graduate from the Wm. S. Hart Union School District high schools attend College of the Canyons at some point. The governor also signed legislation recently lowering the unit fees at community colleges from $26 to $20 per unit. While this is a boon for students and parents’ pocketbooks, it will result in increased enrollments causing further overcrowding.
“We’re at a critical juncture,” stressed Superintendent-President, Dianne G. Van Hook, “in our ability to accommodate both our current and future enrollment and the community cannot rely on state funding alone to do it for them since that funding is very erratic and often falls short of the amounts actually needed by individual colleges. Having bond money available is extremely important,” added Van Hook, “since it would allow College of the Canyons to be eligible for more than $35 million of additional State matching funds in the next four years and close to $70 million in eight years for facilities improvements.”
The growth in the area has also been a factor in planning at the college for many years and the administration has responded to this by planning ahead, developing Educational and Facilities Master Plans and being prepared to add new educational programs or construct new facilities as soon as the need is documented. Build out of the main campus and construction of a separate campus in Canyon Country, which would relieve overcrowding on the main campus, have been in the master plans for many years.