Contra Costa County residents will decide next week whether the Contra Costa Community College District should be authorized to issue and sell bonds up to $450 million to improve district facilities.
If approved by 55% of voters, Measure E would be used to expand and modernize the district's school facilities which include Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill, Contra Costa College in San Pablo, Los Medanos College in Pittsburg, and the San Ramon and Brentwood centers.
The approval of the measure would double the annual tax Contra Costa property owners currently pay the district an increase to $26 per $100,000 of assessed valuation.
Bond funds would address a variety of issues, including:
* Making buildings, classrooms and community facilities accessible to people with disabilities
* Improving academic facilities to help students prepare for 21st-century jobs and transfer to four-year universities
* Providing facilities and resources for science, technology, and medical/health career training programs, including nursing, dental technology and health administration
* Installing and maintaining technology for modern, hands-on career training
The cost for these updates and improvements is estimated at $700 million, said district chief facilities planner Ray Pyle.
The repairs and upgrades to the facilities would provide students with quality education and 21st-century job training, according to District Chancellor Helen Benjamin.
"Our community colleges are an essential safety net providing higher education for local students, many who cannot afford four-year colleges and universities," she states on the district's website.
The current annual property tax of $13 per $100,000 of assessed valuation comes from two voter-approved bond measures in 2002 and 2006, which enabled the district to refurbish aging facilities, build new facilities due to increased enrollment and purchase needed classroom equipment.
County voters passed a $120 million bond measure in March 2002 and a $286.5 million bond measure in June 2006, according to the district's website. These funds have already been spent or allocated on projects under construction.
"When you look at the work we've done, clearly we're transforming our campuses, but a lot more needs to be done," Pyle said.