Bond proposal to upgrade BC
March 15, 2002
Filed under News
The Kern Community College District needs $200 million to be brought into the 21st century, according to Linda Quinones-Vaughan, executive director of external relations and administrative services.
That’s why she hopes the district board of trustees will approve placing Proposition 39 on the November ballot.
“I was proposing a master plan campaign for the foundation board of directors to embark on,” she said. “In that time I learned about Prop. 39, and Prop. 39 allows you to put a measure on a ballot. Prop. 39 measures can only be placed on primary and general elections.”
She hopes the board will adopt the resolution for the ballot by the end of July, which would put the measure on the November ballot.
Kellie Van Westen, the chancellor’s administrative assistant, said that the plan is not yet ready to be considered by the board.
“We’re not that far along yet,” she said. “The board knows about the bond but it has not gone to the board yet for an official decision.”
Quinones-Vaughan said that Prop. 39 provides schools with money for infrastructure, technology, equipment and facilities. She hopes that the measure would provide $200 million for the district, with money allotted to each college based on the magnitude of projects.
“We are working with facilities that are going on our 90th birthday,” she said. “Next year is our 90th anniversary. Some of these facilities have not been retrofitted, nor modernized. We have some infrastructure issues that we are dealing with.”
According to the college catalog, while BC was established in 1913 at the present location of Bakersfield High School, the Panorama Drive campus opened in 1956, making many of its buildings 46 years old, not 90.
Steve Eso, the faculty union president, said that since the facuty union does not have enough information they cannot make an official stand on the issue. However, he said that the union is not shooting down the issue, merely waiting for more information.
“We are certainly open to the possibilities the bond will provide,” he said. “But we need more information on what projects will be funded and how we would go about doing this. We would just like more information.”
According to Quinones-Vaughan, the bond would cost taxpayers only $20. For the measure to pass, it requires 55 percent of the vote. Previously, bonds required two-thirds of the vote. But Quinones-Vaughan said that very few bonds passed with two-thirds of the vote. She said that since the change to 55 percent, nearly every bond requested by schools has passed.
“This Proposition 39 was created so that schools could seek bonds to address issues like infrastructure, old facilities, respective equipment and technology,” she said.
Before BC is allowed the funds necessary for renovations, the money from the bond must first be identified for certain projects. Quinones-Vaughan said the best way to know where to identify the funds is to poll the public and see what the public is willing to pay for.
“We have to employ a consultant. What the bond consultant does is go out and say what people will support for a bond. The bonds that have been successful are the ones that have been for safety, infrastructure reasons, technology advancement reasons,” she said. “You have to identify what you will be using your bond dollars for. That’s what a pollster is for, to find out what the public will pay for.”
Quinones-Vaughan has issued a call for every department on campus to put together lists of equipment or renovation projects. She said those lists will be presented to the district which will narrow it down to one master list.
“The most successful campaigns require across the board support — staff, faculty, students,” she said. However, Quinones-Vaughan did admit that not every project will be able to get the attention needed.
“It’s important that we go after those items that the public will support. That is how we get the vote. We need to get the vote. But when you look at our facilities we provide excellence in education here,” she said.
Quinones-Vaughan said she is educating the public on this issue because it will be the taxpayers who provide the funds for the modernization.
If the bond passes, a group of community members will work independently of the district to ensure that the money is spent properly.
“It is important to make sure we’re credible,” Quinones-Vaughan said.
She discussed three reasons why BC deserves the money: tradition, quality and success.
“Tradition, because we have years of quality service, we serve many communities. We’ve educated thousands. Quality, because we want people to help us build labs that support jobs of the future. Success, in order for us to be successful, our aging facilities have to support ongoing innovation. How can we support ongoing innovation if we don’t upgrade our aging facilities?”
She said that the campus has no money for currently approved projects on campus. She said that is why it is vital the measure pass if it is on the November ballot.
“It takes everyone across the board to support this kind of concept and it starts with the students,” she said. “(We have) quality faculty, staff and administrators. When you have the understanding of what the needs are, when you have the passion to present the arguments and when you can answer questions directly, the voter will understand and, in the end, I think the voter will say ‘yes’ and support it.”