Press "Enter" to skip to content

Capital improvements sought for CA community colleges

Is $1.5B a lot of cash? Because that’s the size of the bond issue that the Ventura County Community College District may ask residents to approve for capital improvements its three campuses. According to the VCCCD Board, they haven’t yet committed to putting the measure on the ballot in November, but the Ventura College, Moorpark College and Oxnard College campuses are all in need of modernization and repair.

Ventura College has been in operation since 1925 and has occupied its current campus since 1955. Some of the oldest buildings on campus do not meet the educational needs of the college’s students and academic programs. Moorpark College opened at its current site in 1967, and Oxnard College’s campus will be 50 years old next year.

The VCCCD Master Plan projects that the three campuses will require $1.5B to remodel, rehabilitate, and in some cases rebuild the educational infrastructure of the campuses. The district’s Master Plan focuses on preparing students for technology sector jobs. To fulfill that, however, the campuses will need major capital improvements.

For reference here is the VCCCD Master Plan . (If you look, you can see where VCCCD planned for sewer upgrades for the campus.) As a point of comparison, here is WCC’s Master Plan. (Nothing about the sewers – which turned out to be a big mistake. No plans for any new academic programs, so that eliminates the need for any building modifications to support them. Nice, thorough plan.)

So, VCCCD’s plans may require $1.5B in bonds to make these investments. And make no mistake – building improvements are investments in the community. As are plans for occupational education programs that will attract and support new industries.

Capital improvements are a community investment

WCC doesn’t have any of that. There’s no vision for attracting any new industries or employment sectors. There are no new academic buildings in Washtenaw County’s future. WCC has created no economic development plans to improve Washtenaw County’s position.

Washtenaw County taxpayers invest tens of millions of dollars into WCC annually in the form of property taxes. What do we get in return? A community college administration committed to making lamprey-like attachments to economic opportunities created by other institutions. There’s plenty of opportunity for new (meaning novel) economic development with the resources the taxpayers provide. But we don’t get much innovation from WCC, largely because the Board and the Administration prefer to spend WCC’s operating funds on their own pet projects. Instead of creating opportunities for others, they create monuments for themselves. They refuse to ask the taxpayers for additional funding for program and capital improvements. In doing so, they have committed WCC to a position of long-term mediocrity. Not surprisingly, it’s exactly where WCC is.

The last time the WCC Board of Trustees asked Washtenaw County voters to invest in WCC was in 1995. In other words, the taxpayers have not been asked to fund ANY capital improvements at WCC in nearly 30 years. Instead, the Board has chosen to divert millions from campus operations to pay for silly, non-academic and unnecessary construction projects (like the Health and Fitness Center) and expensive building rehabilitation projects. If we – the taxpayers – aren’t investing in WCC, who is?


Photo Credit: Matt, via Flickr