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Common Questions About the PCC Bond
Photos and Story by Gina Whitehill-Baziuk
Why is PCC proposing a bond measure?
Many of PCC’s programs are at capacity now, and waiting lists are long. Businesses and industry are asking PCC to deliver programs that the college doesn’t have the facilities to offer, while equipment used in many science labs and career training facilities is not up to industry standards.
Over the last nine years, collegewide enrollment has increased 18 percent, and it has risen each term this academic year. In fall 2007, nearly 10,000 students were put on a waiting list for classes. Of that group, more than 5,000 were turned away because the classes were full.
As the economy weakens, many people return to school to gain skills necessary to compete in the job market. Even now, demand for career training exceeds PCC’s resources. This demand is expected to grow as the population grows. By 2020, close to 400,000 new residents will call the PCC district home.
What would the bond do?
If the bond passes, PCC would be able to expand workforce training at every campus, update equipment and technology for job training and serve more students throughout the district. In addition, the bond would modernize the technology infrastructure to increase distance learning opportunities, and increase the capacity of student services, like child care, to develop more consistent access across the campuses. For example, of the thousands of low-income students eligible for the Pell grant, forty percent are also parents, yet only one campus has a comprehensive child-care center.
Read more about how the bond would affect each PCC location.
How much would the bond cost?
The cost of the bond is $374 million. The large size of PCC’s district means that the maximum a property owner would have to pay is estimated at 32.9 cents per $1,000 assessed value. For the owner of a home assessed at $280,000, that’s less than $8 per month or about $92 per year.
What’s happening with enrollment at PCC?
PCC enrolls 86,000 students annually. Over the last nine years, collegewide enrollment has increased 18 percent, and it has risen each term this academic year. This summer, FTE (full-time equivalent) enrollment increased by 24 percent at Rock Creek Campus, by 21 percent at Cascade campus, by 8 percent at Sylvania Campus and by 27 percent in the credit programs at Southeast Center. Enrollment is expected to go up as the population increases and the need for skilled workers rises.
When was the last bond? What did it do?
In 2000, the voters approved a PCC bond measure, which expanded classrooms and lab space at Cascade Campus, Southeast Center, Sylvania Campus and Rock Creek Campus. On the Cascade Campus, the bond funded construction of several new buildings including a site to house emergency facilities, a humanities building with an auditorium, and an advanced technology and skill center building. The bond provided Rock Creek Campus with a new library. Technology upgrades and renovations were made districtwide. Both buildings at Southeast Center were constructed.
Projects associated with the 2000 bond measure were completed on budget and on time. Payments on the 2000 bond will be made through 2018 at a cost of about $31 per year for a home assessed at $280,000. PCC campuses are once again at capacity, which is why the PCC Board of Directors voted unanimously to place the bond measure on the 2008 ballot.
What about distance learning? Why does the bond include construction of new buildings?
The bond measure would make technology investments necessary to expand distance learning, which is a rapidly growing portion of the college’s educational offerings. Parents and people who work may not always be able to get to campus for class. Distance learning opportunities increase access to classes and can mean the difference in a student’s ability to get a college education.
But at the same time, many programs still require hands-on training and many students prefer classroom learning. With additional classrooms, PCC will have the ability to serve more students whose goals are better suited to being in a classroom with a faculty member.
How “green” would the new buildings be?
PCC’s goal is to meet Silver LEED standards. LEED refers to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design Green Building Rating System, the nationally recognized benchmark for environmentally friendly construction. LEED ratings depend on credits accrued in categories like building on a sustainable site, water efficiency and indoor environmental quality. For example, a LEED certified building might be built on a location that optimizes natural daylight using materials with high recycled content. PCC’s new buildings would be constructed with the Silver LEED goal as a priority.
In addition to new buildings, the bond would allow older PCC buildings to be renovated to improve energy efficiency. Some of these changes include the installation of water-efficient plumbing, roofing upgrades, and the use of sustainable cleaning equipment and materials.
How did PCC decide to go for this bond measure?
The bond measure is designed to meet the objectives of the college’s Educational Master Plan, which was adopted by the PCC Board of Directors in 2002 and lays out strategic directions and action steps in areas such as educational programs and services; student access and development; and community and economic impact.
Discussions about the bond measure began in 2005, including research into what programs students were seeking and ways to address workforce shortages between 2005 and 2020.
From December 2007 to February 2008, President Pulliams held an estimated 30 meetings with almost 800 people, including faculty and staff, business leaders, unions, government offices and community representatives. The purpose of the meetings was to share information about the challenges PCC is facing and get feedback on the components of the proposed bond measure.
Based on feedback from these meetings and the goals of the college, the PCC Board of Directors unanimously voted to place the bond measure on the ballot.
What kind of guidelines must PCC employees observe when talking about the upcoming election?
As public employees, PCC employees are not permitted to post advocacy posters on office walls or college property OR urge a “yes” or “no” vote for any candidate or ballot measure while on the job, during working hours or while using college equipment at any time.
PCC employees are permitted to provide factual information about the bond measure during work time and on college property. This includes the various informational posters, “ask me about the bond” buttons, and brochures that the college has produced and distributed. Employees are also allowed to wear advocacy buttons and t-shirts and have bumper stickers on their cars. Advocacy materials are permitted in designated free speech areas.
The Oregon Secretary of State’s office has available on their web site both a short summary of the rules in Oregon [pdf] and the expanded version [pdf]. Please review these and help PCC comply with the law.