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A 57-year-old auto body program at a community college is in jeopardy of being shut down due to a lack of funds, and the head instructor is pleading with the collision repair industry to save it. Below is a personal letter from Rhody Hayes to the collision repair community:
My name is Rhody Hayes and I’ve been the lead instructor of the auto body department at Columbia Basin College for the past 28 years. I’ve also been an I-CAR instructor for the last 10 years and am qualified to instruct over 30 I-CAR classes. I was voted Western I-CAR Instructor of the Year in 2007 and selected Instructor of the Year for 2008 at Columbia Basin College. My certifications include: ASE Master, BMW 5, 6 and 7, Aluminum Repair Expert, PPG Paint and NGA Auto Glass Technician.
Washington State community colleges, like other community colleges across the nation, are currently experiencing significant budget shortfalls. In response to the budget crunch, Columbia Basin College is ending the auto body program at the end of the 2009/2010 school year.
This program was established in 1952 and has been very successful, accepting 35 to 40 new students every year. Students are graduating from the program to a regional area that includes over 40 communities in three states. Our industry depends on the auto body programs for its technicians. All of the body shops are concerned that, some day soon, there will be no more trained technicians.
This program requires operating expenses of $75,000 if it is to continue on. Our college has stated that if we’re able to secure a grant or funding in this amount annually for a period of three years, we would be self-sustaining and be able to possibly weather this financial storm.
We currently have 10,000 square feet of shop space, one downdraft booth and two prep stations. There are three drive-on frame machines, one split-post lift, UMS measuring system, Velocity Genesis computerized measuring system, two mixing systems (PPG and Sikkens), a work area for 25 vehicles and a complete metal fabrication shop with the following: 12-foot metal break, two four-foot metal breaks, two four-foot metal sheers, a Beverly sheer and a large sandblasting cabinet.
I’m humbly asking for your support to help us keep this program going. We have very qualified and experienced auto body staff and a community that has a high demand for our auto body technicians. Please contact me at (509) 302-1152 or [email protected] if you might be able to provide any assistance to continue this very worthwhile program at Columbia Basin College. Thank you.