A Public Letter to Our Community: Proposed Program Cuts at Lane Community College

This letter to the citizens of Lane County was published in the May 12 Register-Guard:

Lane Community College Administrators are proposing to eliminate the college’s Auto Body & Paint and Electronics programs and to radically “restructure” our Medical Office Assistant (MOA) program. (Administration plans to “suspend” the MOA program were dropped last week in response to strong public objection). The Administration argues that we need to close these programs in order to save money and balance the college’s books. We respectfully disagree.

We believe that these proposed program eliminations and “restructuring” will hurt our would-be students and our community.  Students attending these Professional Technical programs get family-wage jobs with benefits, while the community attracts and holds onto jobs and industries that keep our local economy strong and provide a tax base for education and government services. Last month with less than two days notice, employers who would be affected by these program closures came to the LCC Board of Education meeting to implore the Board to reject the proposal, noting the high quality of the programs and the good wages and benefits and jobs they produce. Some stated that their companies wouldn’t even be in Lane County were it not for LCC’s program, and will likely leave if we close it. Dozens of students and community members packed the room, demanding and at times begging the Board to keep their dreams alive by keeping their programs intact. For many students, these programs are life changing. Our community needs these jobs, and our students and economy need these programs.

The college Administration argues these cuts are necessary to balance our budget; they project the college will save approximately $200,000 next year through these cuts (a figure that constitutes only 0.2% of the annual college budget). However, their projected “savings” ignore much of the revenue these programs’ students bring in (i.e., tuition and state support), and are based upon a gross assumption that somehow 75% of the programs’ students would still come to LCC despite us having closed the program they were coming here to attend. Their assumption was made with no explanation or evidence and ignores actual student surveys that show that less than 10% of current students in these programs would have attended LCC if we hadn’t offered their program. The reality is that when factoring in all of the revenue and student surveys of its impact on enrollment, cutting these programs won’t help the college budget, it will hurt it, just as LCC’s many program cuts did back in 2002.

When faced with evidence about the actual economic impact of their proposal, the Administration has pointed to employer interviews, state employment projections, and supposed analyses of program currency to justify their proposal. However, as reported last week in the Register Guard (“LCC course cuts draw fire,” May 7, 2015), many of the employers interviewed have publicly condemned the conclusions “drawn” from their interviews, strongly supported the programs, and made clear that they rely heavily upon these programs and their students. Similarly, the state employment data the Administration cited capture only a small fraction of the types of jobs that students in these programs obtain, and analysis of these programs demonstrates they are among the most advanced in the entire region. Students come to our programs because they offer the best education available, and do so at a fraction of what many other institutions charge.

The Board of Education is being asked to make a final decision tomorrow evening, Wed., May 13, 6:30 p.m., Building #3, Room 216, on LCC’s main campus, 4000 E. 30th Avenue, Eugene. This is a public meeting, and we strongly encourage supporters of public education and would-be employers of our students to demonstrate your support for career technical education and LCC’s full community college mission.

You may also email Board members at:

Pat Albright, Chair: pgmalbright@comcast.net
Matt Keating, Vice Chair: oregonmattkeating@gmail.com
Robert Ackerman: robertl@pacinfo.com
Gary LeClair: culturehound@gmail.com
Tony McCown: tonymccown@gmail.com
Rosie Pryor: rospry@comcast.net
Sharon Stiles: stilessk97439@gmail.com

Respectfully,
Lane Community College Education Association: lccea@lanecc.edu        

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