Community colleges won major victories Tuesday when voters approved a series of bond measures -- worth well over $1 billion together -- to finance major construction projects and other improvements.
It was a particularly good election for higher education in California, where voters rejected a measure that would have imposed new limits on state spending. Public colleges in California have repeatedly been hurt by existing limits and many feared that the new measure, if it had been approved, would have been devastating to efforts to provide sound levels of state support for the state's colleges and universities.
Among the bond measures approved by voters:
- $246 million for the City College of San Francisco for improvements at its campuses, with an emphasis on improving technology, renovating classrooms and building new upper-division facilities.
- $468 million for the San Mateo Community College District, for improved laboratories and other science facilities, and new training facilities for police and firefighter training. The three colleges in the California district are the College of San Mateo, Cañada College and Skyline College.
- $450 million for the Alamo Community College District, in San Antonio, for building repair, nursing programs and to pay for enrollment growth. An earlier version of the bond proposal had been defeated, but the district revised the plan to deal with a controversy over where nursing programs would be located.
- $46.5 million for Central Piedmont Community College, $5.2 million for Davidson County Community College, and $7.5 million for Alamance Community College -- all in North Carolina.
In other measures, voters in Maine rejected a bid to overturn the state's gay-rights law, which bars discrimination based on sexual orientation in employment and in education. While colleges in Maine generally said that they would not discriminate even if the law had been repealed, many feared the message that repeal would have sent to their gay students and professors.
San Francisco voters sent a (non-binding) message on Tuesday, approving by a wide margin the College, Not Combat measure to encourage colleges and public schools to bar military recruiting on their campuses and to encourage the creation of more scholarships so students do not feel that they need to join the military to pay for a higher education.
Voters on Tuesday also elected governors in New Jersey and Virginia. Jon Corzine was the victor in the former and Tim Kaine in the latter. Both are Democrats who have pledged strong support for higher education. Corzine's higher education platform stressed support for research and job-training programs. Kaine's plans for colleges include a new four-year institution and the creation of more scholarships, especially for students who perform community service.
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