Published in the October 24 – November 6, 2018 issue of Morgan Hill Life
South Valley voters will decide in the November election how much they value Gavilan Community College. Measure X, the $248-million facility bond measure on the ballot, raises money that will continue the progress made by the 2004 Measure E — and it will build our local economy by providing training for better-paying jobs.
Next year, Gavilan Community College celebrates 100 years providing an excellent and affordable higher education to the South Valley region. Hundreds of thousands of students have gained the opportunity to good careers and enhanced quality of life thanks to the classes taught at the 50-plus year Gilroy campus as well as satellite campuses in Morgan Hill and Hollister and a facility opened a couple of years ago in Coyote Valley.
With the high price tag of attending a four-year college, Gavilan provides an opportunity for local students to find a way to improve their career opportunities at a much lower cost. The college ensures everyone, including lower and middle-income students who can’t afford the high price of attending the University of California or State University systems, has an opportunity to succeed. Gavilan has a positive impact on our region by creating jobs — including those in the medical field and public safety vocations. The college educates the healthcare professionals who serve our medical needs, the police and firefighters who keep us safe and prepares our students with the high-tech skills they need to compete for good jobs.
In order to continue providing local access to high-quality affordable education, Measure X will continue the progress from the 2004 Measure E bond funding. That $104-million bond served to upgrade outdated plumbing and wiring, renovate classrooms and libraries, provide access for disabled students, improve campus safety, and plan for the future by expanding satellite sites and a future campus near Hollister serving San Benito County residents.
If approved, Measure X will repair or replace leaky roofs, old rusty plumbing, and faulty electrical systems where needed; upgrade and add classrooms, labs and career training facilities for science, math, engineering, and technology; upgrade and add classrooms and labs to help local students complete the first two years of college affordably, and transfer to the Cal-State or UC systems; expand veterans’ center which provides job training, job placement, counseling and support services to military veterans and their families; improve access for students with disabilities; improve student safety and campus security systems including security lighting, security cameras, emergency communications systems, smoke detectors, fire alarms, and sprinklers; add classrooms, labs and facilities in San Benito County, and at the Coyote Valley Center, to offer a much larger selection of classes, certificated programs and degrees; and renovate the aging college library to meet modern standards for technology and research.
Built into the measure is fiscal accountability and oversight. Every dollar raised locally will stay in the community and cannot be taken away by Sacramento politicians. That means students receive all the benefits of a bond. It would cost no more than $25 per $100,000 of assessed property value, and would require a citizens’ oversight committee and a project list so the community will know exactly how and when the money will be spent.
Soon approaching its centennial next year, Gavilan serves more than 6,000 students. The college has proven itself in designing innovative courses to enhance the value it provides in higher education. Among its successes is Gavilan serves as the home to one of America’s most successful high schools, the Gilroy Early College Academy. Ranked No. 23 in California, GECA offers dual enrollment with the college. Its 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.
Community colleges like Gavilan have historically been underfunded in California. They have faced ongoing cutbacks due to the state budget crisis, and funding to many essential programs has been cut. In tough economic times, Gavilan becomes more important than ever as a resource for local residents who want to expand their job skills to compete in a tough job market.
To continue its tradition of innovation, Gavilan must upgrade its facilities and add new facilities to provide excellence in higher education for a growing South Valley population. If you care about making sure future generations of young people have access to vocational training and academic innovation, this November please vote yes for Measure X.