Valley Voices

‘Yes’ votes on Measure C support Valley’s community colleges

Michelle Zamora gives a thumbs up as she walks across the stage during Fresno City College’s commencement ceremony at Selland Arena, on May 20, 2016. This year’s graduating class of 1,487 students is the largest graduating class in Fresno City College history.
Michelle Zamora gives a thumbs up as she walks across the stage during Fresno City College’s commencement ceremony at Selland Arena, on May 20, 2016. This year’s graduating class of 1,487 students is the largest graduating class in Fresno City College history. ezamora@fresnobee.com

The colleges at State Center Community College District have been providing affordable education for more than 100 years. With more than a century of service, this is the second time we are asking the community to invest in keeping our technology, educational and training facilities up to date.

SCCCD began planning for a future bond in 2010 with a facilities master plan. It provides a prioritized plan for future facility needs and helps identify needed facilities modernizations, new facilities and infrastructure improvements required to support current and future educational needs of the district.

Developing this plan was highly participatory, involving faculty, staff, students, administrators and community members. Each campus created a list of prioritized projects for a potential future bond. During this time, each campus encouraged input by hosting community forums.

The entire planning process included many planning meetings, town halls and several progress updates to the board. The board approved the 2012-25 facilities master plan, directed staff to move forward with a bond feasibility study, and voted to place the bond on the June 2016 ballot.

Each campus and the district formed their own committees made up of students, faculty, staff and community members. These committees made hundreds of community presentations to government, educational and community organizations.

SCCCD board meetings, which are open to the public, have had many community members come forward to give their input on the bond since June 2015. In addition, we conducted planning meetings with the Fresno Business Council in preparation of a future bond, which led to a SCCCD charrette this past January.

At the charrette, we received input from 150 business and educational leaders on the career technology needs in the Valley to better plan for our career technical education course offerings in the future. This plan will be presented at future community meetings to get more input.

In January 2015, a fundraising gala was held with 800 people in attendance, and all of the proceeds went toward funding the bond campaign. In addition, many alumni who got their start at Fresno City College, Reedley College, Clovis Community College, the Madera and Oakhurst Community College Centers, and our Career and Technology Center have contributed to the campaign.

These individuals attribute their success as engineers, doctors, nurses, teachers, firefighters, police officers, emergency medical technicians, lawyers and successful business owners, just to name a few, to the affordable education they received at SCCCD.

There are six pages devoted to Measure C in the Sample Ballot and Voter Information Guide describing in detail the specifics of Measure C. Here are the highlights:

▪ It will improve all SCCCD campuses, upgrading campus buildings with up-to-date technology, Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility, instructional equipment and improve classrooms, labs and equipment for career education programs.

▪ We train our area’s nurses, police officers, firefighters and emergency responders. Measure C will provide state-of-the-art police and fire academies and provide improved training for paramedics and nurses.

▪ We serve many military veterans, many of whom have recently returned from war zones and face challenges including post-traumatic stress disorder and permanent disability. Measure C will upgrade and expand veteran services and job training and provide the support they need to complete their education and get high-paying jobs.

▪ Measure C invests in vocational education classrooms to prepare students with skills needed for today’s job market.

Many buildings, classrooms, science labs, and job training equipment were built in the 1950s and are deteriorating and need significant repairs and upgrades. This measure will address urgent and basic improvements, like repairing electrical systems, gas and sewer lines, replacing outdated plumbing and wiring, and removing asbestos and lead paint.

▪ Campus buildings will become more energy-efficient. These new and renovated facilities will attract and retain quality instructors.

▪ Funds will be used to upgrade campus security and emergency communications systems, campus lighting, cameras and door locks, making the campuses a safer place to learn.

▪ No money can be used for administrative salaries or pensions.

▪ Annual independent financial audits will be performed.

Measure C will provide many local jobs, and all of the funds will be used locally.

Your SCCCD colleges and centers are doing everything possible to provide an affordable education for high school graduates, veterans and adults to prepare them for higher-paying jobs or university transfer.

Please join a broad coalition of teachers, public safety officials, health care, community business leaders, newspaper editorial boards and local chambers of commerce in support of Measure C.

Bill F. Stewart of Fresno is a former chancellor for the State Center Community College District.

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