• Mt. Hood Community College Board Votes in Favor of Pursuing General Obligation Bond

    The Mt. Hood Community College Board of Education voted on Wednesday, Jan. 13 in favor of placing a general obligation bond in the amount of $125 million on the May, 2016 ballot to fund desperately-needed classroom and lab spaces, crucial safety and security upgrades and other vital district needs. If voters approve it, it would be the first time new money would come to the college since a $6 million bond passed in 1974.

    “A strong Mt. Hood Community College means a strong east county,” said Board Chair Susie Jones. “For every one dollar a taxpayer invests in the college, they receive almost seven dollars in return. That is an amazing investment that not only serves our students, but helps to make the community a better place to live, work and raise a family.”

    During its regularly scheduled meeting, the board heard detailed information about the projects that would be funded with the bond. Included in the list of proposed projects were:

    • Building a new Workforce and Applied Technology Center on the Gresham campus, which would house laboratories and classrooms, and expand the college’s efforts in providing applied technology careers.
    • Rebuilding and expanding the Maywood Park campus, which would be designed specifically to meet the demand for entry level and worker training opportunities in the Parkrose and Gateway communities – the largest industrial area in our region.
    • Upgrading and improving the college’s safety and security infrastructure, including the use of new technologies, and seismic upgrades.
    • Securing $8 million in state matching funds that will otherwise be lost, which would be used for additional support for the Workforce and Applied Technology Center.

    The board also heard details underscoring the critical and immediate need for the bond, including the fact that while the college annually serves between 25,000 and 30,000 students, the campus itself was built to serve less than 10,000.

    “This is absolutely a crucial moment in the history of Mt. Hood Community College,” said MHCC’s president Dr. Debra Derr. “Here in our fiftieth anniversary, we need to take the necessary steps to make the college ready to train the workforce of tomorrow. By being responsive to the needs of business and industry, while still responding to the desires of the community, MHCC can take a step forward as one of the premiere community colleges in the state.”

    For the average homeowner, the bond’s impact would be determined by the assessed value of their house. With home values in the City of Gresham averaging approximately $200,000, for example, the typical taxpayer would pay less than $60 annually. An oversight committee, made up in part by community and business leaders, will be formed to oversee the funds to ensure they are spent as promised.

    “It’s so important for the community to understand that the money raised by the bond will only go for the specific items listed, and cannot be used for other things, like faculty or staff salaries,” said board Vice Chair Jim Zordich.

    Instructions on how to apply to join the oversight committee will be posted on the college’s bond information webpage. The webpage currently features detailed information about the bond, a short video exploring the history of the college, a list of the places where the college has presented bond information to the community and more.

    “More than 200,000 students have graduated MHCC and gone out into the world, proud to call themselves Saints,” said Derr. “Countless more have come to the campus seeking everything from job training to enhancing a skill set to starting a new career. Now, with the Oregon Promise on the horizon, and a focus from The White House on the importance of community colleges, we expect the number of students to grow every term.

    “The college needs to be ready to help these students achieve their dreams. And with the community’s help – we will be.”

    For more information about the bond visit mhcc.edu/bond.