Ken Kalthoff

Community Colleges Seek $1.1 Billion From Voters

Money to expand facilities and job training programs

The Dallas County Community College District will ask voters to approve $1.1 billion in a May 2019 bond referendum.

The money would help prepare for an expected influx of 12,000 additional students, improve job training programs and upgrade the old colleges.

"We need new facilities to meet the needs of our students and the way they're going to learn in the future," said DCCCD Trustee Phil Ritter. "There’s a significant deferred maintenance component behind this, as well as assuring that we're providing the highest level of public safety for our students."

El Centro College downtown is the oldest of seven DCCCD Campuses. It opened in the 1960's at a former department store. The others opened in following years.

Ritter said El Centro could be expanded or replaced with a proposed Education and Innovation hub downtown.

El Centro student Joe Villatoro praised the downtown college.

"It’s very convenient, actually. Close to DART, close to a lot more local businesses," Villatoro said.

The 26-year-old student went to work after high school and said it made him see the value of higher education. He said small class sizes at El Centro make it easy for him to keep in touch with instructors.

He hopes to earn an industrial engineering degree and become an entrepreneur after completing his Associate Degree at El Centro.

"Up here you're learning, but you're also growing, within yourself and within the community because you're reaching out to more people," Villatoro said.

El Centro Student Nancy Pineda Gama, 19, said she plans a career in environmental and conservation science with a four year degree after starting her higher education at El Centro.

"Coming here saved me a lot of money. A lot of my friends that went to the four year immediately are already deep in debt," she said.

The two El Centro students said bond voters would be making an investment in the community by helping Community Colleges.

"If you help one person, later on, with that career, with those skills, they can go out into the community and help other people," Pineda Gama said.

The DCCCD referendum will appear on the ballot Saturday May 4 along with municipal elections.

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