California Health Sciences University hosts Measure C town hall meeting

Clovis Community College students show their support for Measure C. (Photo by Valerie Shelton)

Clovis Community College staff and students sought community support for Measure C during a town hall meeting on March 29, held at California Health Sciences University in Clovis.

At the meeting, Clovis Community College president Deborah Ikeda discussed all the facilities and programs the bond measure would help fund if passed by voters in June.

Ikeda started by talking about the new Career Technical Education facilities that are needed on the growing Clovis Community College campus.

Clovis Community College recently became the 113th community college in the state. Currently, Ikeda said, the campus served 6,500 students—a number that has more than doubled in the last few years. The college offers 44 associate degrees and certificates and over 850 courses are offered annually.

“We’re really growing quite a bit at Clovis Community College,” Ikeda said. “We’re the fastest growing campus in our district right now and we’re one of only 13 districts in the state of California that is growing right now. Because of that we need more facilities.”

Clovis Community’s portion of the bond measure funds would go toward building a much-needed career and technology building, which will house programs in environmental, water and wastewater sciences, food processing, electro-mechanical technologies, and healthcare courses in occupational therapy.

“Clovis Community College is growing with a number of different things in the way of career technical education but we just don’t have the facilities to do all we need to do for our students,” Ikeda said. “We recently got a $260,000 grant to start an apprenticeship program for food safety and quality technician and we are partnering with P-R Farms, Wawona Frozen Foods and other companies. This is very high need in our area. As you know, food processing is huge in this area. For us, we will be spending approximately $70 million of these funds to build career technical education facilities at the Clovis Community College campus.”

The project would be a monumental step forward for the young college, which at full build out is expected to serve 10,000 students.

Clovis Community College will not be the only college benefitting from the bond measure. It would also fund new math and science classroom and labs, a 1,500-space parking structure, and a career and technology center with state-of-the-art police and fire academies at Fresno City College; a life science facility, agricultural facility and performing arts center at Reedley College; a new academic building for classrooms and a center for advanced manufacturing at Madera Community College Center; a permanent building for Oakhurst Community College Center; and the creation of a new West Fresno campus.

“This bond measure will be a $485 million investment in our community that will bring vocational training for our first responders and nurses and veterans and it is critically important to us and our community,” Ikeda said. “That is about one cup of coffee a month folks. Really, that is the cost, so if you go to Starbucks, if you do without one Starbucks coffee a month that will pay for our bond.”

Vanessa Suarez, Clovis Community College student vice president, said the bond measure would fund much-needed facilities for Clovis Community that would help her in her pursuit of an environmental policy degree.

“I’m currently a first year, second semester student at Clovis Community College and I’m majoring in environmental policy so the CTE program would be really helpful in terms of my major and getting me where I need to go and get me in the type of classes I need,” Suarez said. “The CTC building will have environmental classes being taught and it is hard to find classes like that right now that are going to match the kind of intensive educational resources that I’m going to require before I transfer to another university or even for vocational students. Not all of our students want to go on to a four year university and community colleges are there to represent all types of college students from our community so we do have students who maybe don’t want to go on to a four year university but want to stop at an associates degree or just have a vocational education so this building will help a lot of our students here on campus get the type of training and educational resources that they really need.”

Suarez said the parking structure at Fresno City College is also desperately needed.

“I’m also taking a class at Fresno City College and let me just say the parking is horrible,” Suarez said. “I find it impossible to park. Sometimes I just have my mom drive me so she can drop me off right in front of my class and I can just get out of the car and go to class and leave right after because it is impossible. Students shouldn’t have to be parking in the neighborhood surrounding Fresno City College. It’s not good for the people who live there. They don’t have spaces for them to park when they have family and friends coming over. We shouldn’t be forced to walk who knows how far so we can get to our class. It takes more than 30 minutes to go there, find parking and then get to class. It is ridiculous and we need more spaces.”

The bond measure, Suarez said, would help in these two areas that directly affect her, as well as help fund many other needed projects in the State Center Community College District.

“There is a lot that needs to be done and this bond will really help Clovis Community, Fresno City, Reedley College and all the different schools within the district,” Suarez said. “I think this bond measure will help our district grow and help students get the educational resources that they need.”