Ballot measures J & K will have big impact on West Hills College

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Friday, October 28, 2022
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West Hills College is taking action to provide more space for student success, but what comes next for the Valley school is up to the voters to decide.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- West Hills College is taking action to provide more space for student success, but what comes next for the Valley school is up to the voters to decide.

There are two bonds on the ballot for the school one for their Lemoore campus and another for their Firebaugh Center. The first is measure J, which would provide funds to West Hills College Lemoore to build a two-story instructional building.

The top floor would provide much-needed space for health sciences, a department where staff says they're turning away students due to lack of space.

It's a tough task getting accepted into West Hills College Lemoore's health sciences program.

"We accept about 10 percent of our applicants each year," said West Hills College Lemoore President James Preston.

The program trains future nurses and paramedics, but the college staff says they need more space. That's where Measure J comes in.

"We just have to build more capacity," says Preston. "Having this new building will allow us to expand our health careers programs, to give more access to students in the Valley."

If approved by 55% of voters, the bond will authorize over $8 million to build a two-story instructional facility. The building would house information technology, art and health classes. It's space that 2nd year nursing student Samantha Guillen says is much needed.

"It is very limiting," said Guillen. "CNAs, paramedics and nursing students all share a classroom so even after, can we ask questions? We can't, not really and we have to contact our instructors outside of school ."

Its average annual tax rate is estimated to be less than 1 per $100 of assessed property value.

Then there's Measure K, a $25.1 million dollar bond to help West Hills College Coalinga Firebaugh Center with classroom technology, campus security and updated devices.

"What we're focusing on for Measure K is finishing up our building and focusing on implementing additional technology, additional security and additional ways we can conserve energy," said West Hills College Firebaugh Center Dean Bethany Matos.

Its annual tax rate is estimated to be less than 3 per $100 of assessed value.

The arguments against both Measure J and Measure K on the Fresno County elections website are provided by the Libertarian Party of California. They say the measures are not necessary and that they come at too high of a cost to taxpayers without true accountability.

They also question how much of an impact the funds will actually make on students.