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Columbus State Community College Prospective Bond Issue – Fact Sheet

Workforce development is the cutting-edge economic issue in Central Ohio and throughout our state. Columbus State Community College is critically important to the economic vitality of Central Ohio. With more than 45,000 full- and part-time students, and open to all who need it, the college is Ohio’s second-largest public higher education institution based on for-credit students, and the region’s number one engine for preparing students for in-demand jobs and meeting the growing and evolving employment needs of Central Ohio.

If Columbus State is to continue to be a leader in workforce development for Central Ohio, the College must have the resources to invest in the state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and technology necessary to provide high-quality, affordable, in-demand training for the jobs of today and tomorrow in fields like health care, business, manufacturing, IT, and other technologies.

What is Columbus State proposing?

Columbus State has been exploring the feasibility of asking Franklin County voters to approve a 24-year bond issue of less than one mill (currently estimated at 0.65 mill) to generate an estimated $300 million for capital improvements of the College’s facilities located in Franklin County. The cost to individual homeowners would be less than $2 per month per $100,000 of property valuation and would enable Columbus State to continue providing high-quality, affordable, in-demand training for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

Does Columbus State have a detailed plan for how the money would be spent?

Yes. The Columbus State Community College Board of Trustees recently approved a 10-year IT and facilities infrastructure improvement plan that is accessible to the public (Making Central Ohio Stronger: The Columbus State Educational Facilities and Technology Plan

The plan serves as a blueprint for modernizing learning spaces across all of its facilities, allowing the College to better prepare students for the jobs of today and tomorrow. It is the result of a formal infrastructure assessment for each building (e.g., HVAC, roofs, elevators), and a separate building-by-building assessment for ADA accessibility to help identify its capital needs.

The total cost associated with this improvement plan is estimated to be $441 million. The bulk of that amount—$390 million—is designated for facilities located in Franklin County. The College is asking Franklin County taxpayers to approve a bond issue that would generate $300 million, all of which will be spent on facilities located in Franklin County.

Specific capital improvements will include projects such as:

  • Classroom and lab upgrades,
  • Expansions and renovations,
  • Updating instructional technology and equipment,
  • Basic repairs and maintenance,
  • Some new construction to meet the growing and evolving needs of our region’s workforce.

Should taxpayers approve this plan, it would generate sufficient funding to help the college implement this 10-year capital plan without having to return to the ballot to ask for further funding.

Doesn’t Columbus State receive funding from the state for capital improvements?

Yes, however the amount is not sufficient to adequately address the College’s capital needs. Over the past 10 years, State capital appropriations to the college have averaged less than $5 million per year. Over that same period, and in addition to the state capital funds, the College has spent an average of $4.5 million each year to address necessary capital needs—funds that otherwise could have been spent on academic and student success programs.

Columbus State values every dollar it receives. However, currently and based on historical capital appropriations, the State does not have the resources to cover the vast amount of higher education capital needs, including those at Columbus State. As a result, Columbus State’s and other community colleges’ deferred maintenance figures increase year after year and other capital needs go unmet.

To date, the College has survived through responsible fiscal management practices and by seeking grants, partnerships, and private funding to meet its capital needs. For example, Mitchell Hall, the newly opened Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts Building, was funded by a public-private partnership between the State of Ohio, Columbus State, and a philanthropic campaign. While the College will continue to practice strong financial stewardship and pursue innovative funding partnerships, without additional local support, the College will have no choice but to continue dipping into educational resources to address capital needs—at the expense of students, area employers, and the economic vitality of our region.

When would voters be asked to approve this bond issue?

Ohio lawmakers recently gave Columbus State and eight other state community colleges authority long-held by most of Ohio’s community colleges to seek local voter approval for additional resources to improve campus facilities and technology.

In consultation with leaders across our community familiar with Central Ohio’s jobs needs, Columbus State has been exploring the feasibility of such an option for some time and is seeking to place an issue on the ballot in March 2020.

Why did the board put this on the ballot? And why now?

When our communities and employers are strong, we all benefit. Columbus State—open to all who need it—has partnerships with many of the largest employers across the region. It’s critical that the College is prepared to fulfill the demand for high-quality employees. Three out of four Columbus State graduates are employed right here in Central Ohio in fields like health care, business, manufacturing, IT, and other technologies, making significant contributions to the well-being and strength of our communities and the region.

Delaying any longer would put the college further behind in its ability to provide modern, effective learning spaces and training for in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.

How do we know the money won’t be spent for salaries, raises, and other operating expenses?

By law, all of the funding must be used for capital expenses (i.e., renovations, repairs, and new construction, technology, and equipment).

Do other community colleges receive local voter-approved funding?

Many high-performing community colleges in other areas of the state have been operating for years with even greater local support than what Columbus State is proposing. Columbus State has been successful without this kind of local support because of its history of managing its resources in a business-like manner through strong stewardship of tuition revenue and taxpayer dollars. However, if Columbus State is to continue to be a leader in workforce development for Central Ohio the College must have the resources necessary to invest in the state-of-the-art classrooms, labs, and technology necessary to provide high-quality, affordable, in-demand training for the jobs of today and tomorrow.

The College’s capital needs have been thoroughly researched and prioritized, and the planned facilities upgrades will make sure Columbus State stays affordable, accessible and high quality for people of every background, occupation, and calling. Modernization will allow our community to provide the job-oriented higher education our region needs—producing the right skills for our workforce and employers.