Sept. 21, 2019 — The Lane Community College (LCC) Board of Education met at the LCC Florence Center on Wednesday for the first board meeting of the 2019-20 school year. The board meets in Florence once a year, with most of its public meetings held the second Thursday of each month in the boardroom of the college’s main campus in Eugene, 4000 East 30th Ave.
LCC President Margaret Hamilton opened the meeting with her President’s Report.
“I want to welcome everybody to the Florence campus. I actually can’t think of a better way to start the year than coming to visit beautiful Florence, and you even have sun for us. Thank you,” she said.
LCC Florence Center Dean Russ Pierson then thanked the seven-member board of education, staff and community members for making the 1.5-hour drive between the main campus and the Florence campus.
“This highlights how important the Florence Center is for all of us who live, work and play here in the Siuslaw region,” he said. “We appreciate all the ways you support our rural students. One of the taglines I hear about LCC is ‘the community’s college,’ and here in Florence we describe the work we do at our extension center is that we endeavor to be this community’s college, too.”
According to Pierson, of the region’s population of 9,000, more than 150 students are involved in credit courses through LCC Florence Center, including online classes. He also detailed ways that LCC staff has worked to engage area students, including Hamilton’s participation in the Oregon Coastal Caucus Economic Summit in August.
“She spoke eloquently about the need to support students in our rural communities, and likewise spoke about Lane’s continued commitment to Career Technical Education (CTE),” Pierson said. “We’re working hard on things … in regard to CTE, which is always difficult in a smaller community.”
Later in Hamilton’s report, she talked about a $140,000 grant LCC received from the Expanding Community College Apprenticeships initiative of the American Association of Community Colleges. The goal of the grant is to increase the number of apprentice programs and services throughout the country, and Lane’s project will be conducted over three years.
“Our intent is to improve relations and work more collaboratively to increase the pool of students entering the trades,” Hamilton said. “This is a very big deal. Apprenticeships are how you grow CTE. It’s on a national radar, it’s on our radar. … We have to get this right. This is how we’re going to grow. We’ve got some seed money to get us started, and we want to work with labor to hopefully get a jumpstart on this.”
The rest of the meeting included a number of policy reviews and program highlights, with reports from the Business Affairs Committee, Academic and Student Affairs Committee and the Executive Committee, as well as a chance for the board and LCC staff to use BoardDocs, a new program that should streamline board communications.
People can visit the site, view agendas and contact the board at go.boarddocs.com/or/lanecc/Board.nsf/Public.
Two items during the meeting specifically dealt with the Florence area.
LCC Board Member Matt Keating, member of the Business Affairs Committee, talked briefly about the potential sale of some of LCC’s property in Florence.
Earlier this year, LCC had received an offer from C.W. Walker and Associates representing a client who expressed interest in building 70 to 80 market-rate apartments on a parcel of land that is a part of the LCC Florence Center.
“There is a demonstrated need for market-rate housing in Florence,” read the board report.
“We discussed several items in our Business Affairs Committee, including but not limited to the sale of the Florence property,” Keating said. “We had robust discussion, applauded the thorough presentation that we received — thank you Russ — and the Business Affairs Committee recommends the college move forward with the approval and grant authorization to President Hamilton or her designee to negotiate the sale of the property with C.W. Walker and Associates.”
While the Business Affairs Committee received information on the college’s appraisal of the property and a report on community outreach submitted by Pierson, LCC Board Member Lisa Fragala expressed frustration that further information wasn’t immediately available to the entire seven-member board. She requested that more information be available to both the board and the public.
Vice President of College Services Brian Kelly then gave a little more information as he said the offer of the property came in slightly lower than the appraisal.
“By granting us the authority to negotiate, it is the intent of the college to move that offer number a little closer to the appraisal number, with the eventual intention of knowing that we’ll probably sell for somewhere in between, which we feel would be a fair-market value,” Kelly said.
The board voted unanimously to pursue negotiations towards a sale, with the caveat that additional information be provided through BoardDocs on bigger issues such as this.
In other Florence-area news, Hamilton’s report mentioned that there is a petition brought forward by private citizens to extend LCC’s district north of Florence to include Tenmile Creek Road up to the Lane County line.
“That petition is currently under consideration by the State of Oregon’s Higher Education Coordinating Commission (HECC),” Hamilton said.
According to background provided by HECC for the “Public Hearing on Petition to Redistrict the Lane County College Service District, Northwest Lane County,” the commission received a petition from residents of Lane County seeking to be added to the Lane Community College Service District and remain unincorporated in any other district. The question has implications on the services provided to residents of Lane County, on tax revenue received by LCC and on state revenue provided by the HECC to all community colleges in Oregon.
LCC Director of Public Affairs Brett Rowlett said, “There is a very small part of Lane County, that when our college district was created 55 years ago, the boundary followed a school district boundary, and not the county line. There are folks that live on Tenmile Creek Road … that have for nearly a decade have been attempting to join the college district. It is not an easy process.”
One way that those county residents have been able to move forward is by obtaining 10 percent of signatures of those registered in that area, which led to a public hearing with HECC on Sept. 16.
After 30 days, the commission could rule on the boundary change, redraw the boundary line or pass the change to the legislature.
“This is the first time this has happened,” Rowlett said. “It’s an interesting process to go through. This is democracy in action,” he added, showing a photo containing only a few people. “It was in Yachats on Monday night. … This was people coming in, saying, ‘Please increase my taxes, we want to support our local community college.’ It was a very neat process to be part of.”
For more information about LCC, visit www.lanecc.edu. Fall term classes begin Sept. 30.
For information on credit and non-credit courses at LCC Florence Center, 3149 Oak St., visit www.lanecc.edu/Florence.