Lane Community College Board of Education elections are coming up, and two candidates are running for Position 6, an at-large seat currently held by Board of Education chair Rosie Pryor, who is retiring from the board.
The board is responsible for developing operational policies for the college, adopting the college’s annual budget and overseeing the development and defunding of LCC’s programs and services.
Community colleges in the state of Oregon are facing enrollment shortage, and LCC is no exception. LCC’s enrollment is down by nearly half of what it was in the early 2010s, from 19,450 regular credit students in 2012 to 10,520 in 2020, according to institutional data gathered by LCC. The college’s enrollment bumped up this year for the first time since the pandemic, but the rate of enrollment is far from where it has been.
On the list of challenges Board of Education members will be facing, increasing enrollment, apportioning LCC’s budget and finding ways of increasing the school’s revenue are all key priorities.
For 26 years, Bob Baldwin was the purchasing coordinator for LCC. Baldwin, who says he’s sat in more than 200 Board of Education meetings, says his experience working for the college made him familiar with the nuts and bolts of LCC’s financial situation.
Baldwin says he joined the race because he believes LCC is going to be financially insolvent within the next two years if it sticks to its spending status quo. LCC is not bringing in enough revenue to cover its expenses, Baldwin says, and it will need to make cuts to programs and courses within the next two years if it doesn’t rebalance.
Baldwin, who says he identifies as a socialist, is not accepting cash donations to his campaign, and has not listed his campaign on the Oregon campaign financing site OreStar. Oregon law requires political candidates to disclose campaign contributions and expenditures using the site.
“For these local elections for school board or county commission, it shouldn’t take tens of thousands of dollars to run,” Baldwin says.
Baldwin says adding another revenue stream besides the state of Oregon Department of Community Colleges and Workforce Development allocation, property taxes and tuition revenues would give LCC more agency over its own financial situation.
The board should primarily focus on policy and strategic direction, and collaborate with the other 16 community colleges in Oregon to pass legislation to further fund these schools, Baldwin says.
One of Baldwin’s ideas for giving LCC more agency in its financial position is to lobby state lawmakers to pass legislation to allow community colleges in Oregon the ability to put tax measures for community college revenue on local ballots.
Baldwin says he is worried that if LCC doesn’t increase its revenue in one way or another in the next two years, it will be forced to have to start making substantial cuts.“Unless we take control of our own financial situation we will always be cutting something in order to do something else,” Baldwin says.
Baldwin is endorsed by the Lane Community College Employee Federation, LCC’s professional labor organization, former Lane County Commissioner Pete Sorenson and former LCC Chief Financial Officer Greg Morgan.
Kevin Alltucker taught at the University of Oregon for 17 years, until in 2020, the university cut Alltucker’s hours down to the point where he could no longer receive benefits and he chose to retire.
Alltucker is one of LCC’s “Distinguished Alumni,” and after getting his Ph.D., taught courses through the University of Oregon’s College of Education’s Family and Human Service Department, including two courses on the American Family in the 21st Century in Clark’s Honors College Inside Out Prison Exchange program, according to the Clark’s Honors College website.
Alltucker says he was inspired by the diverse pathways that led all of his students to his classroom, and his passion for teaching in higher ed extends to his interest in helping LCC from the position of board member. “Being a student is not easy, no matter where you are in your particular trajectory,” Alltucker says. “Students need support academically, but they also need financial support, professional mentoring, emotional and behavioral support. Sometimes we forget about that.”
If Alltucker were elected to Position 6, he says he would focus his attention on helping the board increase access to educational, financial and vocational resources for non-conventional and traditionally marginalized students.
Alltucker sees the role of a board member as being responsible for the overall health of LCC, and finding ways to increase enrollment is a key part of his strategy for getting LCC back to the financial state it was before the COVID-19 pandemic.
His core pillars for his candidacy are focusing on meeting student needs and preparing students for meaningful and good paying jobs. To Alltucker, this means expanding LCC’s competency-based certificates and skilled trades education.
Alltucker says expanding LCC’s career technical program and competency based certificate offerings could increase enrollment by giving students access to career pathways without needing to sign on for a four year college degree.
“COVID really did expose the weaknesses of offshoring those manufacturing jobs and extending those supply chains to other countries,” Alltucker says. “So as we see that globalization trend change and move towards regionalization and localization, community colleges, and LCC in particular, I think are just perfectly poised to work with local manufacturers to provide the training that manufacturers need.”
Alltucker says as a board member he would work with local employers through the Lane Workforce Partnership to help LCC tailor its career technical program offerings to better meet local workforce needs.
Rosie Pryor, who represented Position 6 on the board for 12 years, is one of Alltucker’s top endorsements.
Alltucker has also been endorsed by current LCC Board of Education members Holli Johnson, Steve Mital, Angela VanKrause and Pryor. His other endorsements, which run the gamut from conservative politicians to progressives, include Eugene Mayor Lucy Vinis, Eugene city councilor Randy Groves, EWEB Board members John Barofsky, Mindy Schlossberg and John H. Brown, and former Eugene mayors Jim Torrey and Brian Obie.
Based on information gathered from OreStar, Alltucker’s top campaign contributors include Wildish Lane Co ($2,000), former Eugene mayor and businessman Brian Obie ($1,000), CEO of Burley Design Michael Coughlin ($1,000) and President of Lane Forest Products Susan Posner ($1,000).