Measure E: The benefits, the costs Bond to modernize, expand College of the Canyons campuses
College of the Canyon’s Measure E — a $230 million bond — is expected, if passed, to fund the construction of six buildings, 1,000 parking spaces and modernize 350,000 square feet of outdated facilities.
College Trustee Bruce Fortine said the bond is part of an important investment for the school’s future, adding that two previous bond measures — Measure C and Measure M — constructed much of COC’s Valencia campus.
Measure E would do the same for the school’s Canyon Country campus, he said. If approved, Measure E will fund four permanent buildings on that campus. This includes a new science and lecture center, student center, business and art center, technology and health center and a central plant to heat and cool the campus.
The rest of the money would be used for other improvements at the Valencia campus.
A new parking structure would be added, along with a center for public safety and allied health and a new student center. About 350,000 square feet of classrooms, labs and service centers would be updated.
Additionally, facilities would be upgraded to meet current earthquake, health and safety standards.
The bond money, however, would only pay for 80 percent of planned construction and renovations the community college wants done at its campuses, said College of the Canyons spokesman Eric Harnish. The college will need matching money from the state to complete the entire proposal.
“We typically have 4,000 students on the waiting list (every semester),” Harnish said, adding that the college is expected to increase its enrollment from 20,000 students to 30,000 students over the next decade. “As enrollment continues to grow, it will be harder and harder for students to get the classes they need.”
Only about 3 percent of students at College of the Canyons take classes online, meaning facility upgrades and new facilities remain necessary, he said. G. Rick Marshall, chief financial officer of the California Taxpayers Action Network and author of the argument against Measure E, said he’s concerned Santa Clarita Valley residents may be taking on too much debt through school bonds.
Such debt, he said, can expand to a point of unsustainability due to so many school bonds being paid off across the valley.
“People think if you don’t support (the bonds) you’re against the kids. That’s not the case,” Marshall said, adding he just wants to make sure the college is being fiscally responsible.
Measure E will require an independent citizens’ oversight committee and mandatory audits to keep the college accountable in its spending.
Approximately 650 elected officials, organizations, business representatives, community organizations, community members, educators and College of the Canyons staff and students have endorsed Measure E.
Organizations include the Santa Clarita Valley Chamber of Commerce, Santa Clarita Valley Economic Development Corp. and Valley Industry Association. Some of the elected officials who support the measure are Buck McKeon, Steve Knight, Fran Pavley, Sharon Runner, Tom Lackey, Scott Wilk and Michael D. Antonovich.
The measure will pass if it receives A 55 percent “yes” vote or more on June 7.