VCCCD report urges to better meet the needs of students, community

April 21, 2006
Santa Paula News

The Ventura County Community College District has spent $200,000 for a 300-page report that urges district trustees to end years of discord and instead concentrate on better meeting the needs of community college students and the community.

By Peggy KellySanta Paula TimesThe Ventura County Community College District has spent $200,000 for a 300-page report that urges district trustees to end years of discord and instead concentrate on better meeting the needs of community college students and the community. To do so, the district must develop a culture of “mutual respect, collaboration and accountability,” according to the report prepared by KH Consulting Group of Los Angeles.The results of the report – which took more than a year to compile – were culled from an online survey completed by 664 district employees; 20 focus groups, with 190 participants representing a broad range of district students and employees, including faculty; comparisons made at 26 other community colleges; and several community leadership forums.The VCCCD has been in varying degrees of turmoil for years: in 2002, shortly after voters approved a $356 million bond measure, it was found that Chancellor Philip Westin – already controversial for the spiraling attorney costs during his tenure among other criticisms – had spent district money lavishly on personal expenses. The district has also been marked with ongoing strife between faculty and administration, with many of the former questioning the cost of the report at the same time the district is publicly addressing budget woes.
Among the report’s recommendations are streamlining organizational structures eliminating several levels of administrators, and a stronger emphasis on nontraditional courses to meet the needs of students and the community as well as businesses that would benefit from such courses. In addition, the report recommends that the district communicate more with area business leaders to address the district’s effectiveness in training students for the prevailing job market.The report also recommends a stronger investment in technology to provide the students with the best tools for learning and to improve district efficiency. Employees should receive additional training, the report also noted. Instead of cutting classes and programs to save money, funding should be improved by focusing on new ways to raise money, including grants and partnerships with local businesses.Several aspects of the report’s recommendations sound familiar. The existing Ventura College East Campus was expanded in the late 1990s to better provide classes that would help meet area job demands, including computerized machining.One of the strong arguments used by district officials in the Santa Clara River Valley for the passage of Measure S was that the bond would provide $24.6 million for an expanded East Campus program that would emphasize courses and programs specifically geared to Ventura County’s job market. The City of Santa Paula is considering a lawsuit against the district due to the probable defunding of the East Campus project, which VCCD officials said would be renamed as the Santa Clara Valley Advanced Technology Learning Center.



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