Wednesday, August 8, 2012

District board votes to place $398 million bond measure on November ballot

The Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board unanimously voted Tuesday to place a $398 million bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot, citing the need for expanded career training facilities, veterans’ centers to assist former and active-duty military, and updating aging classrooms, infrastructure and technology systems.
The ballot measure will be placed before about 230,000 voters residing in the East County cities and communities located within the college district, which stretches from the East County cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee to the Imperial County and Mexican borders.  To pass, the measure requires approval by at least 55 percent support of the votes cast.
If approved, the typical East County homeowner would be assessed less than $40 each year. The bond measure is being sought under the provisions of Proposition 39, which prohibits use of the funds for operations, administrator salaries, or pensions. 
Bill Garrett, president of the district’s Governing Board, said that as the result of drastic cuts in state funding, the bond measure is the most realistic option for the district to be able to build and maintain facilities that meet the educational and vocational training needs of East County.
 Money from the new bond measure would continue work on renovations and upgraded facilities at the Grossmont and Cuyamaca college campuses that began after voters approved Proposition R, a $207 million bond measure, in 2002. 
 “What’s important to understand is that Proposition R just got us started,” Garrett said. “Let’s take that next step. We still have a lot of work to do with renovating old buildings and improving the technology infrastructure. This bond measure will move us forward.”
He added that the spotless, independent audits of Prop. R funds and the careful monitoring by a citizens bond oversight committee -- mandates that will be followed with the new bond – have proven the district is a trustworthy steward of public dollars.
Chancellor Cindy L. Miles acknowledged the challenge facing voters of deciding on the district’s bond measure at the same time they are being asked to vote on the governor’s statewide tax initiative.
“The reality is that both are sorely needed,” Miles said. “The governor’s tax initiative would protect us against further class cuts. The bond would provide the buildings, technology and infrastructure to meet students’ learning needs for the next two decades.”
The bond measure is the result of a two-year comprehensive needs assessment and planning process based on an educational master plan that will guide the district for the next decade and beyond. A facilities master plan identifying more than $600 million in facility needs grew out of that planning process.
The facilities master plan highlighted numerous building, technology and sustainability needs at the two campuses, which enroll about 30,000 students. Grossmont College was built 50 years ago, and has 14 original buildings that are badly in need of repairs and don’t serve today’s technology requirements. Cuyamaca College opened in 1978, and many of its buildings, roads, mechanical systems and fixtures are no longer adequate to serve the campus and its students.
In addition to technology upgrades, energy-efficiency measures are needed as a way to reduce operational costs and to direct the savings to classroom instruction.
“This is not just about buildings – it’s about education,” Miles said. “It’s the educational needs of the community that drive the district’s plans.”