By Bill Weaver
November 10, 2012 (San Diego’s East County)—Leaders in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College are speaking out to thank voters for passing Prop V, a $398 million bond measure that passed by about 56.5 percent.
“We’re pleased that voters understand the critical facilities and technology upgrades needed to better educate and train our students in today’s ultra-competitive world,” said Governing Board President Bill Garrett.
Prop V will fund upgrades, repairs and renovations to classrooms, roads, labs and infrastructure, including helping to meet the needs of our region's many veterans.
Money from Prop V will be used to create veterans support centers at both Grossmont and Cuyamaca College, as well as an East County Workforce Solutions Training Center. Prop V funds will also renovate and expand educational and career training facilities for science, medical, public safety, green technology and other fields, according to a press release from the district. In addition, energy-efficiency measures and technology upgrades will be installed to help reduce operational costs and direct savings to classroom instruction.
Chancellor Cindy Miles also hailed passage of Prop V, which follows on the heels of Prop R, which allowed for construction and renovation of 13 major facilities at the two campuses. “Thanks to East County voters, the district will be able to continue the progress of Prop R by providing the buildings, technology and infrastructure to meet students’ needs for the next two decades,” Chancellor Miles stated.
In addition, the campus leaders voiced gratitude to voters for approving the statewide ballot proposition 30, which will stem four consecutive years of deep funding cuts totaling $16 million for the district. Those reductions forced the colleges to cut over 1,600 classes. Passage of Prop 30 will avert a $5.6 million state budget cut and enable the district to serve over 1,100 more students who would otherwise have been turned away, the district has indicated.
Prop V won approval from voters residing in the East County cities and communities located within the college district, which stretches from the cities of El Cajon, La Mesa, Lemon Grove and Santee to the Imperial County and Mexican borders. With 100% of precincts counted and only absentees remaining, Prop V received 66,276 yes votes and 50,912 no votes.
GCCCD has served more than 600,000 students as the only public provider of higher education in the East County since 1961. Classrooms and labs built decades before the digital age need to be retrofitted and significant infrastructure upgrades, including wiring and cabling, are necessary to accommodate computers, audio- visual equipment and other “smart classroom” components.
According to the District Website, although the college district budgets operating funds for maintenance and repair, there is a continuing volume of pressing needs, such as aging roadways and leaking roofs, far exceed the district’s funding capability. Without passage of Proposition V, the facilities at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges will continue to deteriorate. The quality of instruction would suffer without advanced technology and inadequate classrooms and labs.
Prop V will increase the current tax rate by $16.94 a year per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
Per the San Diego County Taxpayers Association, which supported the measure, current budgets estimate $627 million in needs. Total needs of each site are: Grossmont College ($321.3M); Cuyamaca College ($163.9M); District ($34.4M); Technology ($56M); Sustainability ($51.9M). Program cost estimates have been developed following completion of 2012 facility needs assessment and master plan.
District estimates four bond issuances but dates regarding the bond issuance schedule have not been provided. District has stated each site will have three major construction phases.
Capital Appreciation Bonds for remaining three issuances. Total cost of the bond is estimated to be $855 million including principal and interest. District has adopted all required SDCTA best practices including policy on use of Capital Appreciation Bonds and the use of fair and open competition.
Because the total amount of the bond does not address the total needs of the District, it can be expected another bond measure would be needed to complete the projects outlined within the District’s Master Plan.
The next step will be the appointment of a Prop V citizens bond oversight committee made up of East County residents with expertise in construction, procurement and finance, as well as representatives of business and taxpayer organizations.