Shafter, Arvin satellite campuses included in Measure J provisions


Morgan Park, Reporter

Measure J, the $503 million bond measure that would enable new construction and renovation across the schools of the Kern Community College District, is heading to a vote on Nov. 8.

The biggest expenditures of the bond comes from Bakersfield College, and two of the larger projects won’t actually be on campus.

Instead, the college plans on building two new satellite campuses: one in Shafter, and one in or near Arvin. The projects would cost $25 million each.

“Passing Measure J is the first step in making BC in Arvin a reality,” said former BC student Jose Gurolla, 23, a city council member in Arvin and current mayoral candidate.

Gurolla has been on the city council since he was 19 and has been a big proponent of expanding Arvin’s education.

Currently, anybody in the city seeking a college education has to make the trek out to BC’s main campus.

“My goal would be for students to be to get their AA degrees out here. That includes science classes, computer lab, library and other things that we can do,” he said.

Gurolla sees a satellite campus in Arvin as a gateway to future corporate partnerships that would grow the city’s economy.

“As a city, we can say to potential employers, ‘If you locate yourself in Arvin, we can work with the college district to offer training to your employees, so by the time you open, you have a trained workforce,’” he said.

Gurolla doesn’t have any exact statistics but said that high school graduates in Arvin see a significant drop-off in higher education once they graduate, and only three percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree.

Gurolla sees the BC Delano campus as the standard that he wants to see in his hometown.

“If we can get close to what Delano has, it would be a game changer for Arvin.”

Shafter’s satellite campus project is listed as the Technical Outreach Center in Measure J.

The name suggests that the center that would focus on vocational classes, though, it has been difficult to get a straight answer about specifics of the projects.

“From an economic standpoint, we see ourselves as needing labor training. We need a qualified workforce for the city to grow,” said David Franz, schools project director for the city of Shafter.

“If you want to attend college and you live in Shafter, you’re looking at a 30-minute drive no matter what: if you’re going to Taft, the Delano campus at BC or the main campus. And that’s a big obstacle for a lot of our students.”

Franz said that a study on Shafter over seven years ago pegged Shafter as a good candidate for a new campus construction that would have likely ended up near 7th Standard Road.

“For whatever reason, it was put on the backburner. I think some of it had to do with the economy being down. A lot of things changed around 2008 and 2009,” he said.

Franz and the city of Shafter don’t have a lot of say in when construction would begin on the center if Measure J passes.

“From our perspective, it would be a huge thing for Shafter,” he said.

“It’s going to impact us a lot, but it’s just not something we’re going to have a decision about.”

BC’s list of potential projects has well over 100 entries that amount to over $400 million on its own.

Since the bond’s funds would be split and slowly distributed over time between BC, the Delano campus, Porterville College, and Cerro Coso College.

It’s clear that not everything on any of the schools’ lists will get done.