These Community Colleges Were Big Winners in 2022 Midterm Elections

Voters across the country approved local ballot measures that will send billions of dollars to community colleges.

Published November 15, 2022

Edited by Darlene Earnest
These Community Colleges Were Big Winners in 2022 Midterm Elections
Higher Ed Policy
Photo by Erich Schlegel/Stringer / Getty Images News

  • Voters approved measures to modernize facilities and boost workforce training at community colleges across the country.
  • Measures passed Nov. 8 include a $5.3 billion construction initiative for the Los Angeles County Community College District.
  • Voters likewise approved a $770 million bond for the Austin Community College District.

As the results of the 2022 midterms are tallied up, one winner appears to be clear across the country: community colleges.

Voters weighed in on a slew of bond issues across the United States for community colleges, and many of those measures appeared to pass after the Nov. 8 election. The bond initiatives largely dealt with enhancing and expanding colleges' learning facilities and workforce development.

Here's a roundup of several significant measures and what they mean for community colleges:

Austin Community College District, Texas

A $770 million bond proposition appeared to pass as of Nov. 8, according to a release from the Austin Community College (ACC) District.

That bond issue will be key for boosting the Austin Community College District's job training capacity in fields like healthcare and manufacturing and will also be used to set up new campus locations, according to a release.

The bond passed with a wide margin: As of election night, roughly 70% of the votes were for the measure. The measure will have wide-ranging implications for the central Texas region, with expanded student services, childcare spaces, skilled training facilities and a boost to the district's computer science programs.

I couldn't be more excited about the opportunities that are ahead for Central Texas, thanks to our voters' support. I want to thank each and every person who cast a ballot and put their trust in ACC, Austin Community College Chancellor Richard Rhodes said in the release. We created this bond with every region in mind. Now, we'll be able to build the spaces students need to thrive and meet the needs of our community's growing workforce.

Los Angeles Community College District, California

Los Angeles County voters approved a $5.3 billion bond measure for a massive community college building project that is set to modernize buildings and infrastructure on campuses across the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD).

BestColleges reported that the Measure LA bond issue would update facilities on Los Angeles Community College District campuses across the county. That will include renovations like removing asbestos and lead paint, repairing sewer, gas, and water lines, and acquiring new facilities in addition to building out labs for paramedics, nurses, and firefighters, according to the ballot language.

The Los Angeles County Community College District is the largest in the country at more than 900 square miles, according to the Los Angeles Times. The bond is the fifth construction measure approved for the district since 2001, with the previous four totaling more than $9.5 billion.

Past voter approved bonds have immeasurably helped us improve the educational experience for students across our nine campuses, and the new construction trades building will add to that legacy when it's completed, LACCD Chancellor Francisco Rodriguez said in an October release. This project is a great example of what Measure LA could fund — and achieving our objective of providing top-class, real-world education to our students.

Moraine Park Technical College, Wisconsin

In Wisconsin, voters approved a $55 million bond initiative for the Moraine Park Technical College. Like other bond initiatives, that funding will go toward improving the college's learning spaces to meet local workforce needs.

We look forward to the growth of our campus facilities and helping local partners meet their workforce demands, Bonnie Baerwald, the president of Moraine Park Technical College, said in a release. We would like to extend sincere gratitude to our district communities, business and industry, alumni, employees and friends, for their continued support and belief in the mission and value of Moraine Park Technical College as we imagine what's next together.

The initiative comes after the college found in its 10-year master plan that more than $27 million in projects will be needed in the next decade. The bond initiative will help jumpstart the college's expansion and projects, according to an earlier release.

We need to invest in this kind of growth either way, Jim Eden, the college's vice president of teaching and learning, said in that release. If a referendum passes, we will accelerate Moraine Park's ability to grow by about 15 years. If it does not, it will take the College 15 years to catch up.

Portland Community College, Oregon

Technology updates and modernized facilities are also key to a $450 million bond measure approved by voters for the Portland Community College (PCC) on Nov. 8.

Measures funded by the bond initiative include modernizing classrooms to provide more hybrid learning options for students, expanding technical education, boosting the efficiency and lifespan of existing facilities, upgrading heating and cooling systems, and undertaking other infrastructure initiatives across Portland Community College's campuses.

Our greater community recognizes your dedication and compassion, Portland Community College President Adrien Bennings said in a release. Voters understand how the success of PCC students contributes to a thriving economy once they have graduated and are in the workforce. For all of these reasons, PCC was given a 'thumbs up' by voters to continue its good work!

As of Thursday, the measure had roughly 60% of the vote, according to Ballotpedia.

The bond initiative's passing enables PCC to provide our community access to affordable higher education and job training, Tiffany Penson, the chair of Portland Community Colleges' board of directors, said in the release.

Wake Technical Community College, North Carolina

Voters in North Carolina approved a $353 million bond measure for Wake Technical Community College in the Raleigh area Nov. 8, a measure that will fund workforce development initiatives and a new campus.

Wake Technical Community College will use the funding to build out training facilities for a wide range of fields, including healthcare and cybersecurity, according to a release from the school.

It's clear that voters understand the critical role that Wake Tech plays in preparing a skilled workforce for the companies in our region, President Scott Ralls said in a release. It's also clear that they appreciate the life-changing opportunities we provide for Wake County residents to prepare for meaningful careers and ongoing career advancement.

In addition to building a new facility for cybersecurity and life science programs on one of its campuses, Wake Tech will use the funding to create a permanent campus on a 34-acre site in southwestern Wake County, according to the release. The Western Wake Campus is currently housed in a leased facility.