Our View

Tuesday, Jan 10 2012 11:01 PM

OUR VIEW: What was this Arvin study trying to learn?

By The Bakersfield Californian

What we've got here is failure to communicate. That line from the 1967 film "Cool Hand Luke" is an apt summation of the significance of a new report on possible locations for a proposed Arvin campus affiliated with Bakersfield College.

Kern Community College District officials say they hired an outside consulting firm to determine the best site -- and the firm chose the very spot district officials had wanted in the first place: Bear Mountain Boulevard and Highway 99, about 10 miles west of the Kern County farm town. But proponents of a new campus in the town itself say they understood the study's objective to have been quite different: Whether Arvin can sustain a community college campus at all, not whether one location might be a better choice than the other. They say it's a meaningful distinction.

Yang Staehlin & Associates determined that the proposed site along the well-traveled state highway on land already owned by the community college district "best serves the future needs for the south and southwest residents in the Bakersfield College (designated enrollment) area." Supporters of the in-town option, however, cite the economic vitality and educational focus that a community college would deliver to a small town that very much needs both.

But tilting the argument in favor of the Highway 99 site, according to Yang Staehlin & Associates, is the fact that enrollment projections show a satellite campus along the region's major freeway would serve more students. The district-owned 126-acre site along 99 is also better suited to such an institution than Arvin's 25 donated acres at the center of town, the report infers.

Each site has its advantages. Each camp needs to do a better job selling its vision to the broader community. A clear and agreed-upon understanding of the outside firm's purpose in conducting the study would have been a good place to start.

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