At its August 7 meeting, the MiraCosta College Board of Trustees voted unanimously to place a $497 million facilities bond on the November 2012 general election ballot. The bond will be used to renovate existing facilities to support program needs; modernize all buildings to address safety, accessibility and maintenance issues; and construct new instructional buildings, including science and allied health buildings. “Our vote today has the potential to change the face and future of this college,” said MiraCosta College Board of Trustees President Gloria Carranza. “With our decision to move forward today, and with the support of taxpayers and voters in this district, we will be in essence charting the course of this institution for the next 50 years.”MiraCosta College last passed a facilities bond in 1961, which was used to purchase property and construct the Oceanside Campus. At the time, less than 600 students were enrolled at the college. Today, MiraCosta College has three separate locations and serves nearly 20,000 credit and noncredit students, including 1,740 active duty military and veterans and an additional 1,030 military dependents.“The cost of attending a public university in California has risen to as much as six times that of attending a community college,” said MiraCosta College Superintendent/President Francisco Rodriguez. “As a result, more local students are relying on MiraCosta College—at a savings of as much as $35,000—on their way to a four-year degree. In order to accommodate more students in high-demand classes and prepare them for transfer and 21st century careers, we must upgrade our classrooms, labs and equipment. A local bond measure would also allow the college to upgrade and expand our veteran services and facilities to help returning service members receive the support they need to complete their education and enter the civilian workforce.”The MiraCosta College Board of Trustees’ decision to place the bond on the November 2012 ballot follows a survey conducted in late July that found MiraCosta College voters strongly value the opportunities the college provides to North County students and recognize that the college is in need of additional funding. According to a public opinion research survey of MiraCosta Community College District voters conducted by FM3 Research, if an election were to be held today, nearly two-thirds of voters would support a locally controlled MiraCosta Community College District bond measure. The results of the survey were presented to the MiraCosta College Board of Trustees at its August 2 board meeting. “I’m encouraged by the strong support across all of the communities we serve, for the educational programs MiraCosta College provides,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “Our constituents clearly understand the need for the high quality, affordable college options MiraCosta College offers. In today’s tough economy and job market, we must expand opportunities for local students to have access to quality education, and we at MiraCosta College are committed to meeting this growing need.”The Board of Trustees began examining a bond measure in February, when it unanimously passed a motion to explore the viability of such a measure. The proposal for the bond followed the board’s approval of the 2011 Comprehensive Master Plan, a document that is centered on the needs of MiraCosta College students and community and provides a vision of what the college could look like in the next decade. The 2011 Comprehensive Master Plan is the result of thoughtful collaboration among MiraCosta College faculty, staff, students, community members and the board of trustees. It calls for the expansion of college science, biotechnology, nursing, and technical health-related careers and job-training programs. As part of the plan, the college will renovate and modernize existing facilities and construct new instructional buildings to provide students with the education and job skills they need to enter the workforce. “The Master Plan calls for increased programs and services that will help our students, including our veterans and nurses, which will help to rejuvenate our community,” said MiraCosta College Student Trustee Ryan Beltran. “MiraCosta College has helped build who I am today by helping me to learn to succeed, and I believe this measure will help to further build the community’s dreams and character.”The plan to be submitted to voters includes strong fiscal accountability protections including the creation of an independent citizens’ bond oversight to review all expenditures and annual, independent audits to ensure funds are spent as promised to the voters. All funds and decisions will be locally controlled with no monies going to Sacramento or to salaries or pensions. The MiraCosta Community College District includes the cities of Oceanside, Carlsbad, La Costa, Encinitas, Olivenhain, Rancho Santa Fe, Cardiff by the Sea, Solana Beach, Del Mar and Carmel Valley. FM3 Research was founded in 1981 and maintains offices in Santa Monica, Oakland and Madison, WI.For more information about the 2011 Comprehensive Master Plan, visit www.miracosta.edu/ourplan.