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2017 bond would replace expiring PCC bond approved by voters in 2000; focus would be on jobs programs.

Portland Community College leadership, in one of several public forums held this week, offered their vision for equitable student success, and the role the 2017 bond measure could play in the college's strategic plan for the future, at a community forum on Monday.PCC

If approved, the bond would provide $185 million towards the college's goals to improve workforce training programs, health and STEAM — Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math — program, and invest in safety and security updates, facility accessibility and overall longevity.

The 2017 bond would not raise tax rates as it is replacing an expiring bond approved by voters in 2000, and is estimated to maintain the rate of 40 cents per $1,000 of assessed property value.

"This is very different from the 2008 bond. That was a capital construction bond. Although there is some construction in this bond, this is really about workforce development and how we can prepare our students to be in those jobs and be highly competitive for those jobs," said Sylvia Kelley, executive vice president of PCC.

That means, "we're going to have to provide our students with instructional equipment that's up to date," Kelley said.

If the bond is not approved, "we're going to have to take those funds out of the general fund which means that, because we don't have those funds in the general fund right now, ultimately we'll wind up raising tuition, and that impacts our students," she said.

The 2008 bond, passed during the Great Recession, helped the two-year college to expand its capacity in the face of a nearly 40 percent increase in enrollment. Now PCC is aiming to grow curriculum that they believe will survive the next recession and will prevent displacement of students from the metro area by preparing them for local jobs that pay a family wage.

PCC is currently assessing how building space is utilized and how coursework is distributed across all campuses, as officials build a plan to optimize the space they currently have, and plan for future improvements.

At the Sylvania campus, PCC leaders have their eye on the Health Technology building, where necessary improvements include technology upgrades for science programs, nursing education and more space for biology labs that "are about half the size that they need to be," according to Linda Degman, bond program director.

The Rock Creek campus is the only PCC campus to not have a childcare development center — that would change if voters OK the measure.

The last public forum will be held at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, in the Community Hall of the Southeast Campus, 2305 SE 82nd and Division.

Voters can still submit ballots by mail. Or they can take ballots to an official drop site or at a county elections office by 8 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 7, to be counted.

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