MiraCosta College president explains need for bond approval to Rancho Santa Fe Association board


By Karen Billing

MiraCosta College is looking for support of its general obligation bond on the November ballot. Called Measure EE (standing for Educational Excellence), the $497 million bond will be used for modernization and infrastructure improvements on facilities the district already has, while the remaining quarter will be spent on new construction.

At a visit to the Rancho Santa Fe Association board Sept. 6, MiraCosta College President Dr. Francisco Rodriguez said the bond will have a cost to taxpayers of $19.64 per $100,000 of assessed value.

The MiraCosta College District currently serves 18,000 students on three campuses and in its “flourishing” online education program.

The MiraCosta board spent the last two and a half years developing a comprehensive master plan for school’s future. The study allowed them to pinpoint where they want and need to expand, most notably in their most popular programs of allied health, transfer and bio-technology.

The bond will allow them to fully build out their San Elijo campus and create more 21st century classrooms and science labs. The space is needed, Rodriguez said, because as enrollment grows it has been difficult to get all the courses since there isn’t enough room, specifically in science classrooms. The district has approved bringing in portables for additional classroom space but they want to be able to offer more opportunities for their students.

“We want to be able to have local residents complete their education locally,” Rodriguez said, a reflection of their motto “Stay close and go far.”

There are 112 two-year colleges in California serving 2.9 million students a year. Rodriguez said that MiraCosta’s enrollment has seen a 28 percent growth since 2007 as more people see the value of a two-year system as a transition from high school where students can take care of their general education courses while they figure out what they want to do. Sixty percent of their students transfer to a four-year institution and last spring, three out of 10 UC system grads began at a two-year state school.

Another reason behind the growth in the two-year system is the cost—the $1,500 tuition is an option many families find affordable and California two-year schools have the lowest cost rates in the U.S.

“It’s the best education value per dollar,” Rodriguez said.

The last time Mira Costa went for a bond was in 1961—a $3.5 million bond to keep up with enrollment growth and allowed for the construction of the Oceanside campus.

Taking note of the recent controversy in the Poway school district, Rodriguez said capital appreciation bonds (CABs) are not a part of the financing.

A bond survey showed that 60 percent would support their bond measure—a 55 percent approval rating is required for the bond to pass and Rodriguez is excited and hopeful for their chances.

“I think people understand the value between the education and the economy and the vitality of the community,” Rodriguez said.

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