SAN JACINTO– After hearing an unprecedented string of support from community leaders, the Mt. San Jacinto College District Board of Trustees voted during a special meeting on Monday, Aug. 4, 2014 to place a districtwide funding measure on the November 2014 ballot. If passed by voters, the measure would expand college career and educational facilities and programs that help students transfer to four-year universities and prepare for jobs. It would also ensure that buildings are upgraded for disabled accessibility.
Supporters of the bond measure included Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, Menifee Mayor Scott Mann, Banning Mayor Debbie Franklin, Beaumont Unified School District Superintendent Dr. Maureen Latham, Cal State University San Marcos – Temecula Associate Dean Suzanne Lingold, Hemet-San Jacinto Chamber CEO Andy Anderson and former MSJC Vice President Dennis Anderson.
MSJC Academic Senate President Lorraine Slattery-Farrell told the board that faculty, classified staff and students all supported a bond measure. Former MSJC Trustee Joan Sparkman wrote a letter in support of a bond measure, which was read into the record by MSJC Superintendent/President Dr. Roger Schultz.
Board President Ann Motte said a bond for MSJC was critical to the prosperity of the region. She praised the list of specific projects outlined under the bond that would benefit each site in the district – Banning, Temecula, San Jacinto, Menifee and the I-15 corridor.
She cited the need for more facilities to serve the growing population and increase the college-going rate, which would help build economic strength in the region.
“I’m normally a tax hawk,” Motte said. “I’ve been on this board for 20 years and I didn’t vote for the previous two (bonds)…but I really think it’s time.”
“With voter approval, this bond measure would allow Mt. San Jacinto College to continue to support student success and create a brighter future for our region on many levels,” Schultz said. “The measure would allow us to proceed with improvements and upgrades to buildings that house our nursing, emergency response and law enforcement classes. Vocational training classrooms would get the necessary upgrades. Outdated math and science labs will be improved. Our students, including returning military veterans, will benefit by receiving education in state-of-the-art facilities that prepare them for today’s highly competitive workforce. Our communities benefit because the bond would allow MSJC to build the facilities it needs to meet the area’s growing demand for higher education. A skilled local workforce helps to attract more high paying jobs and businesses to our region.”
Mt. San Jacinto College provides career training and support for more than 18,000 students a year in the 1,700-square-mile district that stretches from the San Gorgonio Pass to Temecula. In her letter, Sparkman praised MSJC for providing military veterans with education and services. MSJC also has two Veterans Resource Centers to serve its veteran population. MSJC received the Military Friendly School designation in 2014, ranking MSJC in the top 20 percent of colleges serving military students.
In addition to the improvements to classrooms and labs, the bond would help repair leaky roofs, deteriorating gas and sewer lines, upgrade old bathrooms and remove asbestos.
Many of the speakers, including Mann, said they would personally work to help support the bond out in the communities.
“Please put this on the ballot and let the voters decide,” Mann told the board. “It will be a huge economic boon not only for my city, but for the region as a whole.”
The $295 million measure passed by trustees contains strict accountability requirements, including an independent 9-member Citizens’ Oversight Committee comprised of representatives from throughout the district and annual financial audits to make sure money is being spent as promised. No funds from the measure would go toward salaries or pensions and all funds are required to stay local. The bond, which must be approved by 55 percent of the voters, would cost $13.20 a year per $100,000 of assessed value of a home. The average homeowner would pay about $26 a year, or slightly more than $2 a month.