Written by Donald A. Promnitz
The State Center Community College District has been seeing a period of steady growth after the passing of Measure C in 2016. Now, the faculty and leadership may have new reason to celebrate after getting results on their career training courses.
In particular, Fresno City College has received high marks by the California Community Colleges State Chancellors Office. These marks came in the form of gold, silver and bronze stars for 27 of the school’s Career and Technical Education programs.
In order to receive a bronze, silver or gold star rating, these programs must meet at least one of three criteria for economic mobility. These standards consisted of a 50 percent or greater increase in earnings, attainment of a living wage by at least 70 percent and whether 90 percent or more are employed in a job related to their field of study.
Four career programs at Fresno City College received a gold star rating for meeting all three criteria: the Fire Academy, Radiologic Technology, Registered Nursing and Respiratory Care. Meanwhile, five other programs met two criteria, earning silver star designations.
Outside of SCCCD, two other community colleges received gold star ratings for their Registered Nursing programs – according to the California Community Colleges Metric, the College of the Sequoias in Visalia and West Hills College-Lemoore joined Fresno City’s program in meeting in all three criteria.
“We are very much aware that our students are not just ‘transfer to university’ students,” said Paul Parnell, PhD, SCCCD chancellor. “And this demonstrates that people take our Career Technical Education programs and they are able to get jobs in significant areas.”
Fresno City College is not the only SCCCD school to bring back awards for its career training programs. Clovis Community College received two bronze stars for its Administration of Justice and Management programs. Meanwhile, Reedley College received three silver star rankings for Agriculture Plant Science, Mechanized Agriculture and Welding. A further ten bronze stars were also given to the campus.
Parnell added that Reedley College is the largest agricultural community college in the state. Alongside their 13 silver and bronze stars, they received further recognition this summer by winning an award for Best Post-Secondary Ag Education Program by the California Agricultural Teachers Association (CATA). Reedley College had to compete with the programs at colleges like Fresno State and Cal Poly.
Fresno City College was also not alone in the Central Valley in getting high marks for its Registered Nursing program. According to the workforce metrics showcase, the College of the Sequoias in Visalia and West Hills College-Lemoore also received gold stars in this discipline.
All the while, SCCCD is continuing to take steps towards growth as it tries to make the most of Measure C funding. Earlier this year, Fresno City College finished acquisition of the needed land for a West Fresno campus.
Located on East Church Avenue between Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and Walnut Avenue, the 26.06 acres of land were purchased with $1.75 million of Measure C money, while the other half of the money was donated by local families. FCC acquired a further 13.51 acres on Walnut and Church for the project from TFS Investments. Half of this land was purchased at $675,000 while the rest was donated.
“Career education will be a prominent feature at the FCC West Fresno campus,” said Carole Goldsmith, EdD, Fresno City College president. “In reviewing workforce data, faculty and community input, and examining trends, we have identified a number of programs that will be housed at the new site.”
According to Goldsmith, this includes an automotive technology program, which includes partnerships with traditional automakers and alternative fuel manufacturer Protera Technologies.
At the Madera Community College Center, there are plans to open a new Center for Agriculture & Technology. The groundbreaking for this center will be held next Tuesday. Parnell also expressed hopes for a theater arts program in Reedley.
“We have more students than we’ve ever had, even when unemployment is at its lowest,” Parnell said.
There are currently more than 34,000 students at Fresno City College alone. Further 15,000 and 8,000 students are attending Reedley College and Clovis Community College respectively, according to the SCCCD website.