School district trustees throughout California are breathing a huge sigh of relief after Proposition 30 was approved by 55 percent of voters last month. In the time it takes to hold a statewide election, the status of California's education system was upgraded from critical to stable condition.
Another outcome of the recent election is that the Democratic Party in California now has a supermajority in both chambers in Sacramento and will intensify its focus on rebuilding our broken education system.
Therefore, it's time to revisit the $250 million Measure L Bond Program passed by voters in the San Joaquin Delta Community College District in 2004. Specifically, district trustees should take another look at the promise made to district voters in Calaveras County to "establish a San Joaquin Delta College Education Center in Mother Lode/Foothills Area to accommodate growth and increasing student enrollment."
In 2007, the district agreed to an option to begin planning of a $50 million educational center to serve the foothills region. But unfortunately for foothills residents, the district opted out of the agreement.
In 2010, Delta College trustees rekindled the foothills community's hope for a campus in Valley Springs. They decided to delay approval of the Measure L Master Plan Facilities update until a feasibility study of the new plan for an education center in Valley Springs could be completed.
Tom Coe, the property owner and designer of the education center, estimated the total cost at under $2 million. The district feasibility study concluded that the cost would be $6.8 million. In any case, the master plan update concluded that "the anticipated timeline for the development of a campus in Calaveras County is beyond the planning interval of this study."
Since the 2010 update was for the remaining Measure L funds through 2025, the possibility of a foothills campus in Calaveras County was dismissed by Delta trustees until the next facilities plan update in other words, for the foreseeable future.
Coe disagrees with the 2010 update, which predicts only 250 to 260 full-time equivalent students would attend a Valley Springs campus, calling the figures "bogus."
Coe's response is backed up by a May 28, 2009, report from the Delta College Dean of Workforce and Economic Development. Based on extensive public meetings in Valley Springs in May 2009 with representatives from the educational, public services and professional community, her report projected 570 full-time equivalent students.
Matt Wetstein, interim vice-president of instruction at Delta College believes the 250 to 260 estimate is more accurate. He stated that the projection of 570 full-time equivalent students is not in line with population projections by the state.
The Delta College trustees should revisit the 2010 facilities plan update. In 2011-12, Calaveras taxpayers paid out over $1.1 million in annual property taxes to the Delta College district. They paid an additional $457,000 in 2011-12 for the Measure L Bond program.
The Delta Community College District has an obligation to provide all students residing in their district a high quality education. The distance between Calaveras High School and Delta College in Stockton is 45 miles and there is no public transportation between the two.
In spite of those challenges, 125 students from Calaveras and Amador counties are currently enrolled in at least one course at the Delta College campus. In addition, Calaveras Transit reports that between 30 percent and 40 percent of passengers for Route 1 are going to and from Columbia College, which is in the neighboring Yosemite Community College District. Route 1 services the communities of Valley Springs and San Andreas, which are in the Delta District.
The proposed Coe Education Center would offer a new model on how to develop a 21st century workforce at a California community college. It would be designed to serve the needs of the foothills communities and would help revitalize the foothills economy. The Measure L Bond Program made a promise to taxpayers and students in the foothills. The Delta Community College district should honor that promise.
Boyd, a substitute teacher, lives in Arnold. Send comments or questions to email@example.com.
March 2, 2004 56.8 percent of Delta College district voters approve Measure L.
Jan. 9, 2007 Delta district enters into an option agreement for a land purchase in the Valley Springs area of Calaveras County to begin planning for a $50 million foothill education center.
July 11, 2007 Delta College trustees opt out of the agreement for a Valley Springs site.
May 29, 2009 Report from the Delta College Dean of Workforce and Economic Development to the Vice President of Information Technology projecting 570 full-time students at the Valley Springs site.
Sept. 21, 2010 Delta trustees delay adoption of a draft for a Measure L Facilities Master Plan update until a $30,000 feasibility study of the Valley Springs site is completed.
Nov. 18, 2010 Delta trustees approve a Facilities Master Plan update for the remaining Measure L funds and it does not include a Calaveras County campus. It projected 250-260 full-time equivalent students from the Calaveras area between 2012 and 2020.