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Preparing For Growth
Photos and Story by Gina Whitehill-Baziuk
This is an excerpt from the Fall 2008 issue of PCC Communities Magazine. Click here to download the original PDF.
Portland Community College faces a host of challenges, including thousands of students left on wait lists and unable to get into the classes they need; meeting the region’s workforce shortages; finding enough laboratory space to serve students’ needs; and the lack of modern, up-to-date technology in many classrooms.
“These aren’t challenges of the future,” said Preston Pulliams, president of Portland Community College. “These are right here, right now.” And, with an estimated 370,000 people expected to move into the district by the year 2020, those challenges are only going to grow larger. The recently weakening economy makes these changes all the more important.
“In tough economic times, people turn to community colleges to get a leg up, to retrain, to seek a new career,” Pulliams said. That was the thinking behind the decision by the PCC Board of Directors to seek voter approval of a bond measure this November. If successful, the bond would help the college serve more students by constructing more classrooms and labs, making existing buildings more energy efficient, and providing up-to-date technology to better train workers for 21st-century jobs.
“We are training radiography studentswith equipment that was purchased in the 1970s,” Pulliams said. “They’re using X-Ray technology that relies on film, then they go out and seek jobs that rely almost entirely on digital imagery.” A successful bond measure would allow all three primary campuses to upgrade technology and gain new classrooms and labs, helping PCC to address workforce shortages in such arenas as welders, nurses, emergency first-responders and classroom teachers. The bond measure also would allow the college to make investments in the Southeast Center (82nd Avenue and Division), the Willow Creek workforce training facility to be built on the Max transit line in Washington County, in Newberg and in Sherwood.
Ballot Measure 26-95 seeks voter approval of a $375 million bond measure. But because PCC is so large – it covers 13 K-12 districts – the price for an average home in the region would be 32.9 cents per $1,000 assessed value. That comes to about $8 per month or $92 per year.
The bonds would expire in 20 years. The college would conduct annual audits – available to the public – to ensure that bond funds are used as the voters intended.