The article below originally appeared in the San Mateo Daily Journal and is being reprinted with permission.
With access to about $75 million less than anticipated, officials in the San Mateo County Community College District are contemplating another bond measure to finish its vision of updating local facilities.
The San Mateo County Community College District had a clear vision years ago when voters approved bond funds. Plans were leveraged on using over $50 million in state bonds, which were never made available, and counted on $25 million lost due to investment in Lehman Brothers. Now the district needs to decide how the vision should be altered. Completing it will require another bond measure. Not completing it means discussing a new future reality. Tonight, the board will have its first conversation on the topic.
Board President Patricia Miljanich said the district is thankful for the support from the community thus far, but needs to strategize about finishing the vision.
“We can’t just sit back and wait for the state,” she said.
Chancellor Ron Galatolo requested the conversation, explaining the district made a master plan which counted on over $50 million in state bonds that never became available. In addition, the district lost about $25 million of bond funds in 2008 due to the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers. The district had the money invested in a San Mateo County investment fund, which lost approximately $150 million when the company went under. Together the district is short funds it planned to use, he explained.
“We always had a plan of finishing all these projects but we can’t because partners have walked away,” said Galatolo.
Voters have approved two bonds for the district — Measure C, a $207 million bond in 2001, and Measure A, a $468 million bond in 2005. If the district were to go out for another, Galatolo expected it would be on the smaller side. Voters also supported the district earlier this year with Measure G — a $34 annual parcel tax expected to generated $6 million annually over four years.
Without additional funding some projects like a new science building at Cañada and classroom buildings at Skyline and the College of San Mateo may not happen. Also, Galatolo has an interest in creating a fund to upgrade equipment, which could be built into a bond measure.
Generally bond funds allow districts to also purchase new equipment. But there is no guarantee the district will be able to keep equipment new in the future. California previously gave funds for equipment replacement to districts, but has since stopped the payments, said Galatolo.
“We’re looking into the future. Think about it like this, your washer and dryer will need to be replaced after a number of years,” he said. Items on the school campuses are no different.
The board meets 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 17 at the District Office, 3401 CSM Drive in San Mateo.
Heather Murtagh can be reached by e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.