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Local Control Is Key to Community Colleges

June 22, 2003

Re "Wholesale Reform Needed for Community Colleges," Commentary, June 15:

Phillip Knypstra correctly concludes that the state's community college system needs a major fiscal overhaul. However, his examples do not support this conclusion.

True, California's community colleges do not have attendance boundaries, and for sound fiscal reasons. If such boundaries existed, each college district would be forced to establish its own program in vital disciplines or neglect important public needs altogether. For example, Rancho Santiago Community College District specializes in fire technology and operates a sheriff's academy. Establishing and maintaining such up-to-date programs is a costly enterprise. Therefore, assuring sufficient enrollment to make these programs cost-effective is essential.

To set the record straight, nonresident students who attend California community colleges must pay out-of-state fees.

There is no evidence to suggest that centralized control of the community colleges would yield improved funding for the system. Instead, the strength of our system is its quick and effective response to local needs through local control as evidenced by bond measures.

In November, more than 64% of voters in our district passed Measure E to fund up to 28 capital construction and renovation projects. Skyrocketing enrollments and deteriorating infrastructure made this bond measure the right thing to do. With an ambitious construction schedule, our district is aggressively delivering on the promise of Measure E.

Larry Labrado

President, Board of Trustees, Rancho Santiago Community College District

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