Thursday, November 15, 2012

Thank you, East County!

This column by Chancellor Cindy L. Miles appeared today in the East County Herald.
On Election Night, I had the pleasure of being part of the excitement at Election Central in downtown San Diego. You could feel the energy everywhere as the results trickled in. Thousands of people milled around the cavernous hall, some carrying signs and chanting for their candidate. Television stations set up their anchor desks around the edges of the hall, and cheers went up from some in the crowd when they reported national or statewide returns. Candidates for public office – from state and federal officeholders to members of  local school boards or public agencies -- celebrated their wins or mourned their losses.
It was exhilarating to be there and be part of all the activity, but I had a special interest in this election. I knew that the results would truly determine the future of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District and its two East County colleges.
Statewide, voters were being asked to support Proposition 30, a tax measure backed by Gov. Jerry Brown that would avert massive cuts to higher education. If Prop. 30 failed, community colleges faced a $338 million cut and our district would lose almost $6 million in funding.

In East County, the Governing Board of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District had placed a $398 million bond measure, Proposition V, on the ballot. Approval of the measure meant that the district would be able to modernize aging buildings, create veterans resource and workforce training centers, and upgrade severely- outdated utility and technology infrastructure.
From the first results that came in that night, I saw that Proposition V was going to pass. It took a bit longer for Proposition 30, but that ultimately was approved by California voters who realized the importance of preventing further cuts to education and other public services.
I am so moved and grateful to once again see the wonderful support that East County has provided for Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges. I wish I could personally thank each of the more than 75,000 voters who cast their ballots in favor of Proposition V, but I want you to know that we at the college district deeply appreciate your confidence and trust in us.
Now that the election results are in, you might be wondering what happens now. We’ve definitely got our work cut out for us in the weeks, months and years ahead.
With the passage of Prop. 30, we can now restore 310 class sections that had been cut from our budget. We’ll also be able to add about another 40 class sections with a small amount of additional funding that we’ll now receive. Our 2012-13 budget, which had to be approved well before we knew the election results, was based on the fiscally prudent assumption that Prop. 30 would fail.  
While we’re pleased that Prop. 30 was approved, the college district still faces major budget challenges. In the past four years, we’ve been forced to cut 1,600 class sections and reduce our full-time workforce by 150 employees. Prop. 30 is a reprieve, but we will continue to seek ways to be more efficient and find additional sources of funding.
With the passage of Proposition V, we can continue our planning for the renovations, upgrades and construction that will be occurring at the Grossmont and Cuyamaca campuses. The first phase of our Facilities Master Plan determined the overall need for the two colleges. (You can review the Facilities Master Plan at www.gcccd.edu – click on “About Us” and then “Planning Documents.”) The next phase will further refine the details for the projects, and a final phase will entail creating the actual architectural drawings for the buildings, classrooms and laboratories.
It’s an exciting time at the college district, but we couldn’t have done it without the backing of East County voters. We are so proud to be part of East County, and I’ll keep you updated on all of the wonderful things happening at our campuses.
And let me say it one more time:
THANK YOU, EAST COUNTY!