Last month, voters in the Clackamas Community College district defeated a bond measure that would have been used to update and renovate classrooms and college facilities and modernize equipment used in training students for jobs and university transfers.

Based on conversations in the community, I don't interpret the defeat as criticism of the college or the important role we play in our district. Similar measures, such as the Oregon City School District local option and the Sellwood Bridge fee, were also defeated. In fact, in Clackamas County, no measures passed.

In the past year, 38,000 students turned to CCC for education, skills training, and business and work force needs. During the past year, CCC, as a partner in WorkSource Clackamas, served more than 14,000 people who were laid off, looking for work or in need of retraining to re-enter a changing job market. In addition, high school students and their parents looked to CCC for affordable university transfer courses to jump-start their college education.

Operationally, the college has responded well to the 18-percent reduction in funding during this recession. We've reduced staff, increased efficiency, reduced our energy bills through innovation, and found ways to live within our means while still serving the 41-percent increase in students over the past 10 years. Our budget is balanced for next year with one of the lowest tuition increases in the state, and we are proud of that.

As we consider the future, we understand that CCC is a shared asset. It's one our community has invested in for the past 45 years, and an asset we need for the next 45 years.

We understand these are challenging times for us all, and that together we face many of the same impacts of dwindling resources. So we will move forward, listening to and planning with the community, identifying critical services, and discovering together ways that we can invest for our community's future. As we did in the past, we will be out in the community, face to face. We will also add an online public-input process to capture and report on our conversations. Again, CCC is a shared asset - one that we shape collectively.

While we are disappointed the voters did not approve the bond measure, we now look to the future. Regardless of your vote, I invite you to join the conversation.

Joanne Truesdell is president of Clackamas Community College.

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