Access & affordability:
College affordability continues to be a crisis. Many families are priced out of a higher education, or are left sending their children to college straddled with debts as high as $100,000.
Our community college system should provide a more affordable alternative for these students. One where they can complete their first two years of college before transferring, or graduate with a certification that prepares them for a lifelong career.
I will lead the fight to ensure our community colleges are a strong, affordable option for all students. We must connect each student with every scholarship opportunity available to them, and work to identify new sources of state and federal funding.
Our community colleges provide incredible learning opportunities for those pursuing careers in fields that continue to grow rapidly like nursing, dental hygiene, early childhood education, emergency medical services, computer sciences, automotive repair, construction and culinary arts.
We need to strengthen these programs and expand access to all interested students, many of which have been on waiting lists for many years. Unfortunately, many students are losing the early, crucial years of their careers simply waiting to get into programs that would otherwise transform their lives.
There's no room for error when it comes to the safety of our students, faculty, staff and community. With active shooter and other threats becoming an all-to-regular occurrence, we must stay vigilant and continue to prepare for every possibility. I will prioritize school security and partner with faculty and law enforcement to develop preventive measures and effective responses.
And, in this #MeToo era, students should also be made aware of the district's sexual harassment policies, safety procedures, and reporting options, on day one. Faculty and staff should be trained on their reporting obligations and be provided clear guidelines on acceptable behavior. Implementing these policies will be a top priority.
The Community College District and our K-12 schools are natural partners in education. These days, high school students start taking courses at our community colleges as early as their freshman year. This option gives students a competitive edge when applying for colleges or an opportunity to expand their education beyond what's offered in the standard curriculum.
In recent years, enrollment in our community colleges has declined. I will work hard to build stronger ties with our K-12 partners so that we can collaborate to put more kids on the right track and help even more high school students take advantage of all that our system has to offer.
Classrooms with desks and whiteboards or libraries full of books are no longer enough. Today, we need classrooms with sufficient power outlets, accessible WiFi, low-cost online reading materials, hands-on workshops and collaborative workspaces. This new model will provide our students with the resources they need to keep up with a changing economy.
We need to continue our progress updating, renovating, and building state-of-the-art facilities, all while ensuring that our tax dollars are spent wisely. Projects should never get bogged-down in red tape when students are in need.
A Stronger Community:
In order to serve the unique needs of our communities, our colleges must maintain and develop strong ties to the community organizations and leaders who have boots on the ground.
I will make it a priority to work closely with local businesses to better understand current workforce needs and provide internship opportunities for every student willing to do the work. The district can also partner with community organizations to help spread the word on the many opportunities our colleges provide.