Published in the Oct. 14-27, 2015 issue of Morgan Hill Life

By Jonathan Brusco

Jonathan Brusco

Jonathan Brusco

The educational landscape of Morgan Hill and the South Valley region is about to undergo a major change for the better. Officials with Gavilan Community College, as well as other civic leaders, will break ground next month on the first phase of a new college site at 560 Bailey Ave., San Jose, 1/4-mile west of Santa Teresa Avenue in the Coyote Valley.

Gavilan has always been a college much loved by its students. It is known for offering some amazing programs, including transfer degrees, career and technical education, and, in partnership with Gilroy Unified School District, an exceptional on-site high school. But for a number of reasons, it has never been heavily attended by members of the Morgan Hill community. Even though all residents of Morgan Hill Unified School District are technically also residents of Gavilan’s Community College district, only about 31 percent of MHUSD high school graduates attend the college. The vast majority travel north to attend other colleges.

In 1997, Gavilan opened its Morgan Hill satellite campus at the Morgan Hill Community and Cultural Center, and with this site came greater local course offerings. This smaller site, however, has never been able to fully service Morgan Hill, with a number of the college’s most popular programs only being offered in Gilroy.

With funding from a district bond measure passed by voters in 2004, Gavilan purchased two pieces of land that will eventually become full-sized college campuses serving local constituencies in Morgan Hill and Hollister. The first site to be developed will be in Coyote Valley. This 55-acre plot of land will begin its first phase of construction next month, and in the coming year, we will build 28,000 square feet of instructional space.
Phase one of the Coyote Valley site project serves two important goals for Gavilan College. The first is to provide greater evening course offerings to our local students. These course offerings, combined with our existing programs at the community center site, will provide a broader, more dependable schedule of coursework and expanded programs offered to our Morgan Hill students. The second goal will be to provide a facility for public safety training (police and fire).

With Gavilan being part of a regional public safety training consortium, this partnership will serve both a community need, and also provide $2.4 million a year in added revenue, which will account for nearly 10 percent of Gavilan’s annual income.

Phase two planning for the site is much more extensive and will eventually lead to the construction of a full service campus, including 554,000 square feet of instructional space and the ability to serve 10,000 students. Once completed, the campus will include multiple three to five story buildings, multi-level parking garages, computer rooms, laboratories, athletic facilities and a gymnasium.

Our programmatic goals will include offering comprehensive transfer degree programs, STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) programs, as well as various career and technical programs. With a conservative economic forecast, we expect this phase to be completed by 2025-2027, just in time to serve our growing constituencies in the northern area of our district, which by then should total about 100,000 people.

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With a new state-of-the-art campus sitting on the southern tip of San Jose, we will enjoy a number of additional community benefits.

Contrary to the current situation, students from outside our district may be driving south to our new college, technology programs could attract more corporations to the South Valley, and on-site high school partnerships could be explored with MHUSD. There’s so much to be excited about in the near future, and we, the trustees at Gavilan College, are hard at work as a team to improve the educational landscape for the greater Morgan Hill community.

Jonathan Brusco is a local middle school teacher and serves the South Valley as a Santa Clara County Elections Commissioner and as a Gavilan College Board Member. He can be reached at [email protected]

DETAILS

What: Groundbreaking for Gavilan College Coyote Valley site — Phase 1
When: 9:30 to 11 a.m. Dec. 4
Where: Further details to follow

Robert Airoldi