Portland-area voters should maintain their commitment to the value of a great education by approving Measure 26-95, a bond measure that would finance much-needed classrooms and improved teaching facilities at increasingly overcrowded Portland Community College.

Investing in education is a good decision even in turbulent economic times.

For more local residents, PCC is the supplier of higher education for a better life and job. This is true for high school graduates, adults seeking additional education and thousands of workers learning skills such as welding, nursing, auto mechanics, electronics and medical training.

PCC also is the place where seven out of eight applicants for nursing education are turned away each year because the college can only admit 100 students, due to overcrowding.

But even with the crowded conditions, enrollment continues to grow. A year ago, it was up 18 percent. Because of the shortage of classroom space, 10,000 students last fall were placed on a waiting list and 5,000 students were completely turned away when available classes were full.

In these times, getting an education or advanced work-force training makes excellent personal and economic sense. But for that to occur, PCC - with three major campuses and numerous educational centers in Multnomah and Washington counties - needs to grow.

Adoption of Measure 26-95 would fund the sale of $374 million in bonds to make PCC even more accessible to students. The college's Southeast Portland Center, at 2305 S.E. 82nd Ave., would be turned into a comprehensive education campus - a boon to an area of Portland that desperately needs community investment.

PCC's other major campuses - in North Portland, Sylvania and Rock Creek in Washington County - and several smaller education centers also would see significant additions of classroom, work-force training centers, technology and library facilities. Without these improvements, college officials fear PCC will turn away even more local residents.

Adoption of the bond measure comes with a price: 32.9 cents per $1,000 property valuation. On a home with an assessed value of $280,000 - the region's average - the PCC measure would cost less than $8 per month, or less than $100 per year.

Approval of this measure is all about making the right investment at the right time. In the Nov. 4 election, vote 'yes' for PCC and ballot Measure 26-95.

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