SBCC needs $310 million bond to fix our crumbling classrooms

The Channels Opinion Pages | EDITORIAL

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SBCC needs $310 million bond to fix our crumbling classrooms

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It may not look it, perched atop the mesa like a gleaming beacon of affordable education, but Santa Barbara City College needs money.

From afar, and even pretty close, our campus is stunning. Recent additions like the Garvin Theatre and the remodeled Humanities building shoulder the weight of our title as number one community college in the nation, but the devil is in the details.

And the details… Aren’t exactly pretty.

Sludge leaks through the ceiling tiles in the culinary department, where most of our food is prepared. Overcrowding presents a safety hazard in the Student Services building and the pillars holding up our Campus Center are literally crumbling beneath us.

For this reason, Channels editors suggest the Board of Trustees go forward in placing a $310 million bond on the Nov. 2014 ballot.

We want the pricier bond because history has proven that over-estimating costs is better than asking for more money once we’re already knee-deep in construction.

Topping the bond’s to-do list is the Campus Center, because of its deteriorating structural concrete and rebar. The state recently approved $20 million for its renovation.

However, the overall cost of the project is estimated at $29 million, and the remaining $9 million would have to come from the college district. The college needs this bond to raise that money.

Otherwise, we’ll have to face some serious debt.

The board took an unofficial poll with six in favor and one board member, Veronica Gallardo, opposed to moving forward with the bond measure.

Gallardo expressed concern that the bond wouldn’t pass and the school would be embarrassed.

Last year, the Edward Lews Group and EMC Research were hired to gather information on the community’s reaction to the proposed bond.

The Oakland based company surveyed 601 people from Santa Barbara County, asking the sample if they would vote for a $198 or $310 million bond.

The data shows that 68 percent of those surveyed said they would vote yes or lean towards voting yes for either bond amount.

At this time, the Board has not made a decision on the amount of the bond.

According to Superintendent-President Dr. Lori Gaskin, if the amount were $310 million, the assessment would be approximately $18 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.

The average home assessment value in our district is a bit over $700,000. Given that scenario, the measure would cost $126 per year.

To those that think the price is high, consider that the community is hugely impacted by the success of City College.

Not only because 49 percent of local high school students enrolled here in Fall 2013, according to Gaskin, but also because of the revenue and economic stimulation incurred by out-of-county students who come here to learn.

From Carpinteria to Gaviota, City College stretches its services to almost 19,000 students and nearly 50,000 students in Continuing Adult Education.

The community should continue to invest in the well being of our school, and make City College a better place; one that reflects its merits.

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