The West Hills Community College District has a rich history of serving the educational needs of the west side of the San Joaquin Valley for the past 90 years. The District covers nearly 3,500 square miles with colleges in Lemoore and Coalinga, the Firebaugh Center, a District office in Coalinga, three child development centers, and the Farm of the Future facility at the north end of Coalinga.
The District traces its roots back to 1932, when the Coalinga High School District and Fresno State College began offering college classes at the high school in Coalinga. In 1956, a new 40-acre college campus opened on Cherry Lane in Coalinga. In 1961, the school separated from the high school district and became known as Coalinga College. It would later become West Hills Junior College in 1969.
As time went on, the college expanded its reach into surrounding communities. In 1962, Lemoore and Avenal became a part of the District. The following year, Riverdale and Tranquility followed suit. In 1964, the first classes were offered in Lemoore in rented facilities. Outreach increased in Firebaugh with the opening of the North District Center in 1971 and in Lemoore, with a West Hills presence at the Naval Air Station Lemoore.
In 1979, the District purchased 15 acres at Cinnamon and 19th in northwest Lemoore, and a classroom and office were built on the land in 1981 and named as the Kings County Center. In the early 1990s, the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC) designated West Hills College as the community college provider to the Hanford and Armona areas, allowing application for state funds for campus funding in Lemoore.
The approach of the new millennium brought even more changes. Online classes were offered starting in 1999. In 1998, approximately 107 acres of land was donated by the Pedersen-Semas families for the construction of a full-fledged college campus in Lemoore. The same year a $19.5 million bond measure, Measure G, passed to fund the building of the college and remodeling projects at both the Coalinga campus and the center in Firebaugh which moved to a new building.
West Hills College Lemoore, the first new community college built in California in this century, opened in 2002 west of Highway 41 on Bush Street on the property donated by the Pedersen-Semas families. The campus earned college status from the Board of Governors in 2001 – officially becoming the 109th community college in California – and full accreditation in 2006, giving the District two separate colleges (West Hills College Coalinga and West Hills College Lemoore), jointly governed by the West Hills Community College District. That was just the beginning of a new phase of construction running into the 21st Century.
Voters passed Measure C in 2008, which benefited West Hills College Coalinga and provided $11.6 million in funds to build new agriculture facilities at the Farm of Future and modernize several campus buildings.
Measure E was passed in Lemoore at the same time, providing $31 million in funding for several planned new buildings. The state-of-the-art Golden Eagle Arena opened in 2011 and a new 23,000 square foot Student Union opened in 2016.
Measure Q, an $11.8 million bond measure, was also passed in 2008 to provide funds for the educational center in Firebaugh.
Measure T, a $20 million bond issue, was passed in 2014 to fund district-wide ongoing technology upgrades for the next 20 years.
California Proposition 51 was passed in 2016, which provided the remaining funds needed to build a new educational center in Firebaugh. The center was renamed as the Firebaugh Center in November 2021 and the new facility opened in August 2022.
A new District Office building in Coalinga was opened in December 2019.