A $348 million bond measure was approved Tuesday by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board, responding to community demands for a workforce center that will train East County’s future employees for critically-needed jobs.
Funds from the proposed bond, which will appear on the November 8 ballot for more than 230,000 registered East County voters, will also be used to address needs for veterans’ centers to assist former and active-duty military and to improve facilities and update classrooms at the Grossmont and Cuyamaca college campuses, serving more than 28,000 students.
“Our board members saw a crucial need for an East County center that will provide students and existing workers skills they need for the rapidly-changing economy,” said Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board. “This bond measure will provide for an innovative economic development hub in East County to provide customized training for local businesses, workforce readiness, and career-technical education leading to skilled employment and industry certifications.”
The bond measure, which is being sought under the provisions of Proposition 39, requires approval by at least 55 percent of the votes cast. The district will not use bond funds for any operations, administrator salaries, or employee pensions, and will continue an independent citizens’ oversight panel to assure accountability for the use of all funds and annual audits to ensure funds are spent only as authorized.
Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said more students and their families are relying on local community colleges such as Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges now that the cost of attending a California public university is at least six times as much as a community college. “In today’s competitive job environment, community colleges must continue to provide training and education for East County residents and veterans reentering the workforce,” Miles said.
The two community colleges serve more than 1,800 veterans, with counselors and staff specifically assigned to work with them and provide support, financial aid resources, and referrals to outside agencies. The bond will allow the colleges to attract more veterans by expanding facilities and access to job training and support services to help them reenter the civilian workforce.
In addition to the need for a workforce training center, both community colleges have buildings that are decaying after decades of use with classrooms and labs falling behind current and future student learning demands. Both colleges have targeted high-need facilities that would be constructed or repaired with money from the bond measure.
These include an instructional complex at Grossmont College to replace outdated classroom buildings that have been used for more than 50 years, and a multidisciplinary classroom building at Cuyamaca College that would replace aged-out learning facilities and add much-needed math and science labs. Other critical projects support safety and security (alarms and fire systems), sustainability (alternative energy and water use reduction), as well as emergency communication systems and community/disabled student access.
The college district has served East County since 1961, when Grossmont College first began accepting students before moving to a 135-acre site in El Cajon three years later. Cuyamaca College opened in 1978 at a 165-acre site in Rancho San Diego.