Monday, August 6, 2012

College district board to vote Tuesday on bond measure

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board is holding a special meeting at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Aug.  7, at Grossmont College’s Griffin Gate to consider placing a $398 million facilities bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
The bond measure proposal is based on a facilities master plan that has identified needs such as expanded career training facilities, veterans’ centers to accommodate the growing numbers of Post 9/11 G.I. Bill beneficiaries, and updating aging classrooms, infrastructure and technology systems.
Grossmont College was built 50 years ago, and has classrooms and other buildings that lack necessary technological upgrades and are badly in need of repairs. Cuyamaca College opened in 1978, and many of its roads, mechanical systems and fixtures are no longer adequate to serve the campus and its students.
“The district is in great need of funding to maintain and upgrade our facilities,” Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said. “With the tens of millions of dollars in state funding cuts we’ve endured in the last few years, it is abundantly clear that to meet the educational and job-training needs of our students and the community, we need the public’s help.”
More than 230,000 voters reside in the East County communities located within the college district, including the communities of Alpine, Crest, Dehesa, El Cajon, Jamul, Lakeside, La Mesa, Lemon Grove, Rancho San Diego, Santee, Spring Valley and beyond to the Imperial County and Mexican borders. 
To pass, the proposed measure would require at least 55 percent support from voters casting ballots on the measure.  If approved, the typical East County homeowner would be assessed about $40 each year.   
Ten years ago, East County voters approved Proposition R, an immensely successful $207 million bond that, coupled with state bond monies, enabled the colleges to construct 13 new and refurbished facilities that have transformed the Grossmont and Cuyamaca campuses. The bond program was held up as a state model with its series of unblemished audits and careful monitoring by its citizens oversight committee. The new bond measure would also require the creation of a citizens oversight committee to review finances.
However, the facilities master plan publicly unveiled last week to a group of community leaders shows that many facility improvements are still needed at the campuses, which enroll about 30,000 students. In addition to technology upgrades, energy-efficiency measures are highlighted in the master plan as a way to reduce operational costs and to accommodate a universal shift toward sustainability. 
At Grossmont College, the facilities plan recommends replacing the many aging modular buildings placed at the campus more than 30 years ago as temporary classroom sites, as well as providing greatly needed instructional and lab spaces. Among the buildings being considered for replacement is a new facility for science classes, replacing a 50-year-old building that is no longer adequate to serve students.
At Cuyamaca College, deteriorating and inadequate classroom buildings are now 34 years old and sorely  in need of replacing. Among the facilities on the list is a core classroom and office building with frequent repair and maintenance issues  that needs to be rebuilt to be brought up to code.
The facilities master plan resulted from a two-year comprehensive needs assessment and planning process. The facilities plan is based on the needs identified in the district’s educational master plan that will guide the district for the next decade and beyond. Both plans were presented to leaders in the community, business and education, who provided input that helped guide the district’s plans.