October 26, 2010 > Measure G, an Important Community Investment
Measure G, an Important Community Investment
Measure G Will Fund Essential Improvements in College Facilities
As Dr. Gari Browning, President of Ohlone College sees it, "Ohlone is an extremely valuable community asset. The return on investment since the college opened 43 years ago has been significant in terms of economic development and human development for the local area." Dr. Browning is optimistic about the future of the college but feels the community needs to make another long-term investment in the form of Measure G in the upcoming election. Browning states, "We want to continue being a community asset for the next 43 years. But we have some serious capacity issues with many of our aging facilities."
Of the 23 buildings on the Ohlone Fremont Campus, nine of the main academic buildings were built between 1972 and 1974 as part of the original campus, one is an old Victorian house, four are ranch houses built in 1950s, five are older portables, and only four have been built since 1994. Measure G is a $349 million local bond to fund essential upgrades, repairs and utility infrastructure for these aging facilities. The College has developed a 15-year Facilities Master Plan for the Fremont Campus that details the needed improvements. The plan for the College's facilities needs is driven by and integrated with the Educational Master Plan, the College Strategic Plan, and the Technology Master Plan.
According to Browning the 15-Year Facilities Master Plan will address the following serious needs and essential projects:
* Repair and renovate classrooms and facilities lacking adequate plumbing, heating, air conditioning, ventilation and electrical systems;
* Build a new science center;
* Upgrade earthquake safety in campus facilities and classrooms;
* Acquire up-to-date technology for classrooms;
* Make repairs to the aging plumbing system (to prevent flooding and water damage, and to reduce future maintenance);
* Improve disabled access;
* Install and repair fire safety equipment (alarms, smoke detectors, sprinklers, emergency lighting, fire safety doors);
* Upgrade utility infrastructure, including solar energy systems, saving money on energy bills; and
* Increase parking and a add maintenance building to support growth at the Newark Campus.
Facilities Improvements Support Ohlone's Important Role in the Community
Ohlone's mission is to serve the community by offering instruction for basic skills, career entry, university transfer, economic development, and personal enrichment for all who can benefit. The College is open to a wide diversity of students who come with a variety of individual goals. Of course, there are traditional-aged college students (18-22) coming to Ohlone right from high school. This age group is growing as the cost of attending UC and CSU, as well as a reduction in the number of students admitted to the four-year schools, is making Ohlone the first choice for many students for their freshman and sophomore years of college.
However, there are many types of students, many with education goals other than transfer to the four year universities. Many adult learners, some who already have college degrees, come to Ohlone to take a few courses or earn a certificate to help them advance in their job or career. And there are adult students who have lost their jobs, or are looking to make a career change, who come to the college to explore their new job opportunities and to gain the knowledge and skills to achieve their goals. There are also many students of all ages who do not have the academic or English language skills needed to succeed in college. These students come to Ohlone to prepare themselves to enter college-level classes. And often there are adult students coming back to college after many years with the goal of transferring to a four-year university to complete a degree.
Robert Douglass, retired executive Cargill Salt executive and President of the Ohlone College Foundation points to the important role Ohlone plays in economic development, "Ohlone College provides essential job training and workforce preparation for students of all ages. In today's tough economic times, Measure G will give Ohlone the facilities needed to continue offering local residents training and education in the fields of nursing, health sciences, biotechnology, and solar and clean energy technology."
Proven Results from the 2002 Ohlone Measure A Bond
Ohlone's 2002 Measure A Bond was an investment that has produced substantial results. The award winning Newark Center for Health Science and Technology is a state-of-the-art, 21st century learning facility that opened in 2008. The Newark Campus has become a favorite of students and faculty alike. A new Student Services building on the Fremont campus is also a product of Measure A. This facility, which opened in 2009, serves as a one-stop center to provide important services for students including registration and records, academic counseling, financial aid, health services, services for disabled students and other special populations, and with offices and rooms for student activities.
The expenditure of Measure A funds was conducted under the watchful eyes of a Citizens Bond Oversight Committee. Oversight Committee member Theodore R. Bresler, a Fremont resident, is proud of the work done by this group. Bresler recently stated, "As a member of the Ohlone Bond Oversight Committee for the 2002 bond issue, I am keenly aware of the financial issues [related to bond funding]. In managing the Measure A funds the college district has replaced nearly $24 million of that bond issue at an average interest rate of 5.14 percent with a slightly smaller reissue at 3.06 percent, saving the taxpayers about $217,000 per year for the next 16 years. Thus, the district is actively looking out for the interests of its residents in the area of bond finance."
Bresler went on to urge support for Measure G, "Ohlone and other community colleges provide good, affordable higher education to thousands of students, especially important in these difficult economic times. Many of Ohlone's facilities, particularly those for science, are in desperate need of repair and improvement. Measure G would protect the taxpayers' investment in these facilities. I urge all voters in the Ohlone District to vote Yes on Measure G."
Financial Impact in Perspective
Measure G would result in a property levy of $19.95 per year per $100,000 of assessed valuation. Browning puts this into perspective, "For a $400,000 home, that is an assessment of only $160 per year, or less than fifty cents per day. Then, in 2027 the impact drops to less than twenty-five cents per day. This relatively low investment will allow Fremont, Newark and Union City citizens to continue to reap benefits from a viable institution of higher education located in their area that currently is extremely more cost effective than either CSU or UC alternatives."
Financially, the Community College system in California is one of the best deals around. The costs to attend a CSU or UC in California continue to increase and are as much as 10 times more expensive than Ohlone. With fewer and fewer students able to afford the CSU or UC systems, Measure G will help make sure that the Tri-City community has the facilities to continue to offer high quality, affordable college options for students transferring to four-year colleges.
The following information is from the California League for Community Colleges (2010) compares resident student tuition and fees for one academic year (30 semester units) at Ohlone versus those for CSU and UC: Community Colleges $780; CSU $4,827; UC $9,285. Tuition and fees for private schools such a University of Phoenix, St. Mary's, Heald Business, etc., are even higher.
Faculty and Students Support Measure G
The faculty and students at Ohlone have been very active in the campaign to pass Measure G. They have volunteered many hours making telephone calls to community residents asking them to cast a yes vote.
Professor Jeff O'Connell has worked as a math professor for the past 15 years and is currently President of the Ohlone Faculty Senate. When asked for a faculty perspective O'Connell stated, "As a professor and community college graduate myself, I understand the key role Ohlone plays in our community. Demand for our classes and training has increased. Over my 15 years at Ohlone I have seen the facilities at the Fremont campus deteriorate and they are just no longer able to meet the needs of our students. YES on G ensures we have adequate facilities to continue meeting the community's demand for affordable education and local job training."
Evelyn Choy is currently a student at Ohlone. She is a business administration major and member of the Women's Water Polo Team. And, as President of the Associated Students of Ohlone College, she is in a unique position to express a student view on Measure G, "I chose Ohlone College because I wanted a high quality, affordable education close to home. I plan to graduate next year with my degree in business administration and to transfer to a four year college, hopefully CAL! Without Ohlone I am not sure how I would afford college. But the Fremont campus really needs work - I have actually tripped going up the stairs. The environment you study in matters - students need an adequate, safe campus."
Taking a Long-Term View of Measure G
Dr. Browning likes taking the long-term view. According to her, "Since 1967, Ohlone has been the door to opportunity to hundreds of thousands of community residents. For 43 years students have prepared for college level work, transferred to CSU and UC campuses, learned entry level job skills, and upgraded their abilities to improve their careers and their lives. Looking ahead another 43 years to the year 2053, the passage of Measure G will be viewed as one of the most important investments made by the citizens of Fremont, Newark, and Union City."