Published in the September 12 – 25, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life

Jonathan Brusco

This Nov. 6 the voters of Morgan Hill, South San Jose, Gilroy, and San Benito County will be asked to help Gavilan Community College forge a path that will forever change the landscape of higher education in the South Valley.

Measure X is aptly named for the 10 years of projects it funds. If passed, this $248-million bond will revolutionize the college and transform student success.

Celebrating its centennial next year, Gavilan serves more than 6,000 students on its main campus in Gilroy, and four satellite campuses in Coyote Valley, Morgan Hill, Hollister, and the San Martin Airport.

In addition to offering dozens of transfer and associate arts degree programs, the college also provides an abundance of hugely successful career and technical programs in nursing, water infrastructure, aviation maintenance, public safety, cosmetology, and even drone aviation, thus balancing the need to provide an affordable transition to a four-year degree, while also offering career pathways that promote success and prosperity within our local community.

Gavilan is also home to one of the nation’s most successful high schools, the Gilroy Early College Academy, GECA, ranked No. 23 in California. It is located on the Gilroy main campus site and offers dual enrollment with the college. GECA’s students often graduate with both a high school diploma and an AA transfer degree, most entering a four-year university as a junior at age 18.

The college’s 2030 Facilities Master Plan outlines all of the growth objectives for the next decade. It also dictates the many areas where the college will put Measure X money to work. These projects include numerous facilities improvements to the current infrastructure.

They also a brand-new Technology/Engineering building, Library/Learning Resource Center, arts education classrooms for career training in growing design and media industries, classrooms and labs to teach hands-on science and health career skills, a Veterans Resource Center, expanded GECA classrooms, as well as the first phase of our new San Benito County Campus site and additional classrooms at the Coyote Valley Campus.

These improvements will dramatically transform our facilities on our main campus, allow for new degree and career pathways, improve transfer rates, and allow for students in Morgan Hill and San Benito County to take more of their classes closer to home.

The growing strength of our economy as well as a population boom in the South Valley has created strong support for higher ed as well as a rapidly expanding student base.

With the current economy, we are in a unique position to create a decade of prosperity for Gavilan. In a rarely seen situation, Sacramento is offering matching funds for many of our facilities projects.

With the passage of Measure X, our local tax dollars would then be worth double. In addition to this, the college is beginning what will be a three-to-five-year transition to becoming a basic aid district.

This means that the college’s operating budget could soon grow, programs would expand, and operational restrictions will diminish. Voters’ passage of Measure X would set the framework for student success and economic growth in the South Valley for the next two generations.

There’s a reason the word “community” is so central to our community college system — and Gavilan Community College is no exception.

In the era of astronomically high college tuition, a community college not only offers a less expensive means to obtain a four-year degree, it also increases a student’s likelihood to be accepted at a UC school.

It offers career training that enables young adults to quickly enter fulfilling careers without building debt along the way — and immediately start earning excellent salaries. Community colleges train our nurses, paramedics, police, and firefighters.

In the case of Gavilan, it also helps high school students accelerate their college coursework and get a two-year jump on their higher ed degrees.

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The Measure X bond will radically transform the college in the years to come and lay foundations for future generations of students.

The cost of this bond will translate to roughly $100 a year on the property tax bill for the average Santa Clara County homeowner. It’s a small price to pay for securing the future of our children and grandchildren.

Like many of you, I chose to reside in the South Valley because it is a special place to live and raise a family. It evokes a lifestyle that is locally focused, nurturing, and supportive. Together we can help it thrive and prosper as an educational force to be reckoned with, because there is nothing more transformative to a free society than having access to a strong higher education.

Jonathan Brusco has served on the Gavilan College Board of Trustees since 2012 and is currently the board president. He is also a K-12 school technology administrator and serves on the board of Ed-Tech nonprofit organizations. He lives in Morgan Hill with his wife, Julie Klem, and daughter, Isabella. He can be reached at jbrusco@gavilan.edu.

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