Much has changed since the mid-1960s when Lane Community College’s main campus was constructed — but there’s no doubt that it has character. As a aging educational facility, Lane’s campus is in dire need of updates to address long-standing safety, security, seismic, and accessibility concerns. We also need to provide an up-to-date learning environment for the thousands of students and staff who utilize our facilities every day. It is vital that we keep up with the needs of the Lane County economy and our community’s increased demand for more training in nearly every career field.
Adequate funding for public schools in Oregon has been lacking for decades, especially since the passage of Measure 5 in 1990. This long-term disinvestment in public schools has resulted in insufficient funding that leaves schools to decide between paying for educators or capital improvements. For obvious reasons, paying for educators wins out, therefore making it nearly impossible for public colleges or school districts to make physical improvements or updates on their campuses without the help of bond funds. This bond will make crucial investments to help keep education affordable.
Lane’s campus, albeit beautiful, is aging. In an effort to not only identify needs but to strategically address some of its age-related issues, the college recently underwent a process to develop a facilities master plan. This multi-year effort involved the board and campus community in an effort to plan for the future of building and making repairs at Lane. The process, which included a survey of students and staff, identified some key areas that need to be addressed on campus. These are mostly focused on safety and security, investments in the community’s workforce, and the need for local and affordable education.
Safety and security are top priorities
With a strategic plan in place, Lane would use bond dollars to systematically address seismic and structural safety concerns in its aging buildings, some of which are more than 50 years old. Bond dollars would help the school to offer safe, secure learning spaces for years to come.
Unfortunately, violent acts happen almost daily in the United States and have had devastating effects here in Lane and Douglas counties. Safety measures at Lane need to be updated so the campus is better equipped should the unthinkable happen here. Improvements such as security systems, automatic locking mechanisms, and enhanced communication tools could help protect students and staff.
Natural disasters are a concern, too. The Willamette Valley and Oregon Coast sit on one of the most dangerous earthquake fault lines in the country. Buildings on the Lane campus need to be retrofitted or reconstructed to ensure that students have a safe place to learn, receive job training or attend community events and are able to escape safely in the event of an earthquake.
Investing in our community’s workforce
Lane is the community’s college and offers local education, training, partnerships, and opportunities. Such training and education can replenish and sustain the local workforce and economy here in Lane County. Funding used to enhance the school would be an investment in the local economy.
A local and affordable education
A community college should offer high-quality, affordable education. Capital investment would allow Lane to keep general fund dollars focused on educational efforts and enriching learning opportunities. Bond funds could help Lane to meet the needs Lane County and the state by being able to offer training in a variety of workforce careers.
Funding for public education is scarce, and Lane Community College needs the support of the community it serves to adapt its campus to meet the needs of current and future learners. These updates are necessary, not only to make the school safer, more accessible, and technologically up-to-date, but to encourage learning, passion, hard work, and education in Lane County and Oregon.
Lane Community College Board of Education is considering this on the agenda of its December 18th, 2020 meeting. More information will be posted here after that meeting.