Investment secured in the state budget will expand educational opportunities for rural students
DELANO, CA – Assemblymember Rudy Salas (D-Bakersfield) presented local educational and community leaders with a $14 million dollar check, symbolizing the historic investment secured in the 2021-2022 state budget to construct a new building on the Bakersfield College (BC), Delano campus. The new 40,000-square-foot Learning Resource Center will include classrooms, office space, a library and designated spaces for student services to help accommodate and support a growing population of students throughout Delano and North Kern.
“I am thrilled to have secured $14 million in investment to expand Bakersfield College’s Delano campus and provide more life-changing educational and workforce opportunities to our rural students,” said Assemblymember Salas. “With the increased demand for classes at BC, now is the time to continue to invest in our colleges and our students so that we grow the workforce we need to build a strong local economy.”
In 2013, Dr. Sonya Christian, then-president at Bakersfield College, launched the Rural Initiatives program, which aims to provide access to quality education for Kern County’s socially, ethnically and geographically diverse students. Since then, BC’s Rural Initiatives has increased access to courses and expanded student support services in Delano, McFarland, Wasco, Shafter, Arvin, Lamont, Lost Hills, and South Bakersfield.
“BC’s Rural Initiatives team has worked hard to empower rural students by providing access to high-quality education, encouraging, supporting, and preparing these vital students to thrive in a rapidly changing world,” said Dr. Sonya Christian, Kern Community College District’s Chancellor. “I am thankful for the continued advocacy of Assemblyman Rudy Salas, who always puts the Central Valley, our students, and our communities first.”
Between 2015 and 2019, the number of courses offered at BC’s rural sites has more than doubled. At the Delano campus specifically, the number of students attending 15 hours of class or more per week has risen more than 50 percent during that same time, prompting the need for an additional building to accommodate students.
The new building in Delano will include much needed classroom spaces, both for in-person learning in Delano and remote learning classrooms where lessons may be broadcast from Delano or to Delano for interactive learning in the physical classroom setting. By leveraging technology this way, BC can increase the impact of skilled faculty at existing locations while giving students the physical classroom and in-person learning experience without the burden of traveling.