Among Ohio’s public network of community colleges, six have the distinction of being funded in part by local county levies that contribute nearly $200 million annually and reduce tuition for county students.
Three community colleges had levies on the ballot this November. Two passed easily, providing additional funding to Cuyahoga and Sinclair community colleges. The Rio Grande Community College replacement levy failed in the four counties that fund it: Gallia, Jackson, Meigs, and Vinton.
Two of the three types of Ohio’s community colleges—technical colleges and local community colleges, but not state community colleges—are permitted to seek district funding through local tax levies under current Ohio law. The levy funding makes sense in many larger counties where workforce needs create a need for specific workforce skills the community colleges can supply.
Cuyahoga Community College received nearly $112 million in levy funding in 2016. The levy passed in November was a .5 mill increase for 25 years, which will increase that amount by $227 million. Montgomery County’s levy contributed just over $33 million to Sinclair Community College in 2016. Lorain County Community College raised nearly $25 million in 2016, and Lake County’s levy contributed nearly $20 million for Lakeland Community College that year. Eastern Gateway in Jefferson County and Rio Grande Community College in Gallia County each received slightly less than $900,000 in levy funding in 2016.
Cuyahoga Community College’s levy passed by a wide margin of nearly 70 percent, and was a vote of confidence in the college, according to President Alex Johnson. “The levy will encourage student success and completion by assuring we have the programs and facilities to get students prepared and in the workforce,” Johnson said. "This is a major win for Tri-C and Cuyahoga County."
In the case of Sinclair Community College in the Dayton area, strength in health care education creates a burgeoning health care workforce to the benefit of citizens, young and old.
Premier Health’s Chief Nursing Officer, Peggy Mark, RN, Ph.D. MBA, oversees all nursing functions for the company’s hospitals, ambulatory centers, and home care settings.
“I work with a lot of great people to set policies, vision, and strategic direction for nursing, as well as ensure we maintain standards across the Premier Health system,” said Mark. Premier Health is the largest healthcare employer in the Greater Dayton Area, employing about 14,000 people.
A 2014 study published by the Brookings Institute reported that approximately 58 percent of healthcare providers in the Dayton Metro Area were pre-baccalaureate workers. “If you look at the Premier Health employees—both in and out of nursing—we have so many people who have come from Sinclair. Sinclair is a great asset to our community and I don’t know what we could do without them and the graduates they send to us,” Mark said.
Sinclair’s new Health Sciences Center was designed to foster inter-professional learning and features state-of-the-art classroom and laboratory spaces, including simulation rooms and technologies for specialties such as surgery, intensive care, and labor and delivery.
“Designing the facility to allow for more inter-professional education opportunities will help train future healthcare providers to work together to care for patients,” Mark said. “That inter-professional training, combined with the exposure students will receive in the simulation spaces, will help prepare students for the challenges and situations healthcare professionals encounter on a regular basis.”
The simulation spaces and other resources within Sinclair’s new Health Sciences Center will be available to community partners such as Premier Health for continuing education and ongoing training purposes.
“If we have needs for ongoing training, we can go to Sinclair and they are always willing to partner with us,” Mark said. “They help ensure that future providers are educated to meet the needs of our community and also support our current professionals who need to update skills as the healthcare environment changes.
"I just can’t say enough about what a great partner Sinclair has been and our partnership will only get stronger,” she added. “I feel very confident with a partner like Sinclair that we’re going to be able to meet the needs of our community. As healthcare evolves, we’ll be able to evolve and train our health care providers.”
Sinclair college offers health sciences degree and certificate programs across 14 areas of study.
Note: Quotes from Premier Health’s Chief Nursing Officer Peggy Mark, RN, Ph.D. MBA were adopted from an earlier story on Sinclair Community College’s website, but remain relevant to this story.