• Eugene Weekly Loves You!
Share |

Eugene Weekly : News : 10.16.08




LCC’s Bond Measure

Aging campus would get modernized

by Ted Taylor

Imagine you are in a car wreck, and the first person who responds is an EMT who stops the bleeding while the ambulance driver rushes you to the hospital. The next person who cares for you is a nurse, and most of the subsequent care you receive is at the hands of trained technicians — all community college graduates. Do you really want to short-change the training of all these people?

This is the story often told by Dale Parnell, the first president of Lane Community College after it was founded in 1964. In the past 44 years, LCC has graduated thousands of people who have gone on to provide the skilled workforce we all rely on, from our mechanics to our dental hygienists to the folks who design and install our solar systems.

Down near the bottom of the November ballot is Measure 20-143, a proposal that has gotten little attention compared to the presidential, Senate, County Commission and Eugene mayoral races. The measure would authorize the sale of $83 million in bonds to replace the 1995 bond that expires in 2009. The money would be used for expanding and updating LCC’s classrooms, labs, educational facilities and technology.

The new bond measure would cost property owners about the same rate as the 1995 bond: an estimated 25 cents per $1,000 of assessed value. Property valued at $200,000 would be assessed about $50 a year for five years. There is no organized opposition to the measure, and no negative statements appear in the Voters’ Pamphlet. 

LCC President Mary Spilde says bond projects include upgrading equipment and facilities for the nursing and EMT programs, improving disability access for students, meeting fire and earthquake safety codes and remodeling classrooms for high-demand programs. Technology upgrades will improve the learning environment on campus, she says, and also enable more distance learning through online courses.

Some of the funds would also go to repairing and replacing LCC’s deteriorating roofing, plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning systems that date to the 1970s. 

Spilde says she recognizes that these are economically uncertain times and voters are watching their wallets, but supporting local education is vital to the local economy. LCC is experiencing a 27 percent increase in enrollment this fall. About 7,900 new students have applied. UO is also seeing a record number of freshmen this year.

“It’s common in a depressed economy and in times of higher unemployment for people to go back to college to seek training or retraining so they can qualify for new employment opportunities,” says LCC registrar Helen Garrett.

Some of LCC’s new students already have bachelor’s degrees but are “coming back to train for real jobs,” Spilde says with a laugh. Nurses are in high demand and can start off making $60,000 a year with a two-year degree and even more with advanced training. “There are not that many degrees that pay so well right away,” says Spilde. 

But LCC’s nursing program turns away many more people than it can accept, due in part to limited facilities and technology. New computerized mannequins and other high-tech training aids would allow more nursing students to more quickly master medical procedures.

LCC programs geared to other high-demand, well-paying careers include physical therapy assistant, dental hygiene, respiratory therapy, auto mechanic, computer technician and energy management.

For more information about the LCC bond measure, visit www.lanecc.edu