Bakersfield College will further expand its services to communities outside of Bakersfield starting this fall.
The college is receiving $1 million as part of the 2018-19 state budget to help fund Career Technical Education programs next school year, and all will go toward expanding services for students outside of the Bakersfield campus. The college held an event there Tuesday celebrating the new funding.
“For too long, our friends in northern and southern Kern County have been plagued with high unemployment numbers, high poverty rates, and frankly that’s just unacceptable,” said Kern Community College District Trustee Romeo Agbalog. “Because of this gift, we’ll be able to expand our efforts to provide the infrastructure that’s needed and offer more CTE courses in these communities.”
The funding will allow the college to create its first HVAC program, unique to the Delano campus, as well as new chemistry courses for several of the campuses.
The money will also go toward making current programs more readily available outside of Bakersfield, such as the expansion of the new four-year bachelor’s degree in industrial automation to the Delano campus and the mobile welding program to Arvin, Lamont and other rural areas.
Lastly, a portion of the funding will go toward an expansion of the college’s Rural Initiatives Distance Education project. RIDE provides distance education classrooms at high schools in Arvin and Delano.
Part of the focus on the more rural communities in Kern County is that Bakersfield College has seen an increase in students from those areas, particularly the North Kern communities. The college says the North Kern region saw student growth of 79 percent between 2013 and 2017.
“(The) Kern Community College District and Bakersfield College understand that a skilled workforce is essential to a vibrant economy in Kern County and that education plays an integral role in workforce development,” Christian said. “For these reasons, Bakersfield College has made significant investments in rural communities.”
Christian said the college wouldn’t have received the funding if it wasn’t for the efforts of Assemblyman Rudy Salas, D-Bakersfield, who advocated for more Central Valley funding in the state budget.
“Rudy Salas has been a champion of education as the vehicle to (the) economic improvement of communities, particularly those in the rural parts of our region,” Christian said. “Rudy Salas fundamentally believes in healthy communities, and he fundamentally believes in education. He brings the resources that make our valley strong.”
Salas made a few comments at Tuesday’s event before handing over a large check to the college.
“This in an investment in our community. This is in investment in our students,” he said. “The best thing we can do is provide people with the skills so they can have a good-paying job.”