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Measure 17-3: Yes for RCC

The affordable bond levy will pay off for taxpayers and the local economy

Inquiring taxpayers want to know: Are we getting our money's worth?

When it comes to Rogue Community College's proposal on the Nov. 2 ballot, the answer is an unqualified yes. RCC has already proven its worth to Jackson County and this bond measure will ensure that the payoff continues for area residents.

RCC is seeking approval of a 20-year, &

36;24 million bond, which would cost the average homeowner about &

36;20 a year, or less than &

36;2 a month. The payoff comes in reduced overhead to the college ' and taxpayers ' and in the economic boost from RCC that will only accelerate if voters approve the bond.

The bond would provide funds for two different parts of RCC's Jackson County presence:

&

36;12.8 million to purchase and renovate leased space in downtown Medford. The school currently spends &

36;800,000 annually in lease costs for buildings that often don't really meet the needs of its rapidly growing enrollment. The &

36;12.8 million cost to taxpayers would essentially be paid back in about 12 years simply because existing debts would be retired and the lease payments would end.

&

36;11.2 million would be used to create a technical training campus in the former Tyco building in White City. The project will primarily house courses linked directly to job training in areas such as trucking, electronics, firefighting and construction. That training will help bolster the local economy by creating the sort of work force that employers look for when they consider relocating or expanding.

— So, will taxpayers get their money's worth? Consider the following and you'll see why we think the answer is yes:

On Sept. 27, the first day of classes this year, 5,527 students had enrolled at RCC in Jackson and Josephine counties. That's an 11.8 percent increase over a year ago.

The expansion of RCC from Josephine County into Jackson County was approved in 1996 by about 85 percent of the voters in the two counties. Eight years later, about 3,000 students attend RCC classes in Jackson County. Visit the area near the downtown Medford library on a weekday morning and you'll be amazed at the number of students who pour out of the nearby buildings when classes change on the hour.

Many of the classrooms in downtown Medford are simply too small. If the measure passes, class sizes can be increased, which not only will allow more students to take the classes they need, but also will save the costs of having to provide additional classes.

Both campuses, and particularly the Table Rock campus near White City, will expand the college's ability to provide training for local businesses. Among the five-page list of businesses already working with RCC are such companies as Erickson Air-Crane, Kodak, Medford Fabrication and Sprint. Those are the types of businesses that provide family-wage jobs, but they need a trained work force to get the job done. RCC is doing that for them.

RCC is no ivy-covered school, with professors who author studies while graduate assistants do the work. This is a working community college, with a bare-bones administration, hands-on instructors and very basic facilities. The average age of the student at RCC is 35 and the typical student is there because he or she needs job-related training or is working to get an associate degree before transferring to a four-year college.

RCC has proven its worth to its students, to area businesses and to the community that brought it to life here in 1996. Voters should continue to invest in the college and in the community by supporting Measure 17-3.