District eyes another bond

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Construction of central mall in 2016. / Rosalia Cato / el Don

Paint chips away from the exterior wall of 40-year-old portables on a hot, sunny day at Centennial Education Center. An outdated classroom reveals stained walls and an old fan struggling to cool Santa Ana College’s non-credit students. From time to time, school officials say the water main breaks, potentially shutting the school down to students entirely. 

“We’re planning for the next 80 years and we want to have up-to-date facilities,” said Vice President of Continuing Education James Kennedy, referring to the 85-year lease the district now holds on CEC’s city-owned property.

For the second time in two years, the Board of Trustees is considering asking local property owners if they are willing to add about $9 a month to their property taxes to construct much-needed new facilities at CEC and elsewhere in the district.

“I do see the need for a facilities bond, I want to make sure it passes though,” said Trustee John Hanna during the March 14 Board of Trustees Meeting.

Officials think the previous bond, Measure L, failed in 2020 because there was no updated master plan at that time. In the last year, committees from Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College worked together to identify the district’s biggest areas of need. The result is the 2022 Facilities Master Plan, which officials say can serve as a guide for this new bond. 

“We are actually doing this the proper way this time,” said Iris Ingram, Vice Chancellor of Business Services.

CEC isn’t the only campus that is hoping for upgrades. Over half of the main buildings at SAC are 50 years old or more and the new master plan calls for updates and replacement structures.

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Some major projects planned to take place at SAC are the Applied Technology Center and an Arts and Workforce building. 

The Applied Technology Center would be a two story building for workforce-ready programs such as auto, diesel, welding, and manufacturing technology. A four-story parking structure is planned to replace the loss of parking due to future construction. 

In the updated master plan, performing arts, media programs, fashion, fire technology, nutrition, and more are also combined into a new two-story Arts and Workforce complex that will be built on top of Parking Lot 6.  

The new bond is currently being reviewed by the board and by May they plan to finalize the wording of the proposal. Before June district officials say they hope to have a resolution calling for a bond so it can be put on the ballot and promoted before November. 

If the new bond fails like Measure L, district officials warn that students – and the local workforce – may pay the price. 

“Funding for infrastructure to support state-of-the-art Career Technical Education could be delayed for years, creating a wider skills gap in the region, which could contribute to a possible delay in the securement of living wage jobs for RSCCD students in CTE fields, which could also have an impact on the local economy,” said Letitia Clark, chief communications officer for the district.

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