Before most of us were born, California’s leadership created a miraculous system of higher education. This two-tiered system was carefully designed to strengthen the economic life of the local communities and build a statewide population of professionals. The first tier, the community colleges, was to be owned locally, with local citizens carrying the primary responsibilities for the funding and governance. The second tier, the universities and state colleges, would be governed and run at the state level. Since that time California has gone through many economic upturns and downturns but through them all this system has held strong.
When California’s economic situation was very positive, the state legislators often shared the wealth with community colleges, building new buildings and encouraging enrollment growth. When the economic situation tightened, community colleges were generally left to fend for themselves, especially in terms of the physical campus. Recently we all went through a very difficult economic time in this state. Sure enough, California’s leadership indicated that the community colleges would need to fund physical improvements or repairs primarily from local bonds and with local governance of those bonds. But, despite the improvement in the state’s economic picture, the Governor and the Legislature have made clear that they expect communities to recognize their local responsibilities for community colleges by funding the physical plants locally.
SBCC needs work, and lots of it. The campus has been dependent on temporary buildings, many of which are more than a generation old and the remaining ones must be removed. Classrooms are aging and deteriorating and the labs and instructional technology badly need modernization and upgrades. Top priorities for Measure S include science, engineering, health care, and vocational facilities.
The state has already promised to provide partial funding for renovation of the Student Center, but it has made clear that this support for facilities will not happen again.
Measure S has strict fiscal accountability requirements. A new Citizens’ Oversight Committee will be appointed and annual public audits required. It must be representative of the community. All funds raised by this measure stay local. The funds cannot be taken away by the state or used for administrative salaries or pensions.
As the college of choice for the majority of Santa Barbara area high school graduates, SBCC needs your support. The 2- and 3-year-old children in this community today will be entering SBCC just when the Measure S work is completed. Let’s be sure they enter a college that is ready for them, with safe facilities and exciting, effective programs.
Marianne Kugler is an SBCC trustee.