District considers a $720 million bond for November ballot

CONSTRUCTION-johnson-center
Construction of the Johnson Center in 2020. Julian Reynoso / el Don

The district may be asking voters to approve a $720 million bond for upgraded facilities this November after missing a ballot deadline two years ago

Ahead of a final vote at their June 10 meeting, Rancho Santiago Community College District trustees heard a bond feasibility update Monday that included insights into outreach efforts, prioritized projects at both colleges and the projected monthly cost to local property owners—about $9 million for an average home. 

In 2022, a $420 million bond was introduced but failed to meet election code deadlines. 

“We consider [$720 million] a prudent amount for a district our size,” said RSCCD Vice Chancellor of Business Services Iris Ingram.  

Priority Projects 

Three of Santa Ana College’s top prioritized projects remain the same as in the 2022 proposed bond, including a much-needed refresh for Centennial Education Center at $113 million and an Applied Technology Center at $148 million.

With the C Building plagued by plumbing and other facilities issues, a $140 million Arts and Workforce Building was ranked higher than in the past. 

“Due to workforce training, a buildup in dual enrollment, and our immense work by our faculty to get living wages and job placements in their fields, we included the Arts and Workforce complex [as a higher priority],” Santa Ana College President Anneb​​elle Nery said. 

Early concerns

Board members expressed concern about the possibility of an overload of bonds on voters’ ballots this upcoming election, including Santa Ana Unified School District, the City of Orange, and several potential state-wide bonds. 

“That’s what I’m worried about—is how many there are on the ballot that we would be appearing on,” Area 6 Trustee Phillip Yarbrough said.  

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Other members are concerned that voters in Orange and Anaheim Hills do not usually vote in favor of bonds that improve Santa Ana College.   

Two years ago, the district was redrawn to exclude people who polling showed would not vote for a bond. Polling also showed that voters greatly supported a district-wide bond that would benefit both SAC and Santiago Canyon College. 

“History has demonstrated that there might not be the same level of support in the Santiago Canyon College area as there would be in the Santa Ana College area, however, both colleges have the need for upgraded facilities,” said Ingram. 

Next Steps 

The district failed to meet the election code deadlines two years ago earlier because of the redrawn district. 

For a district bond to make it into the November 2024 ballot, board members and RSCCD staff must submit all paperwork to the Orange County Registrar before Aug. 9. 

Representatives from Clifford Moss, an election planning and strategic communications firm, prepared the feasibility update and assured the board they were on top of this year’s deadlines. 

To prevent past mistakes, Clifford Moss Principal Bonnie Moss told the dias, “We told you a year ago that we were going to pay very close attention to time.”

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