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MiraCosta College Tries Again With $455M Bond On November Ballot

MiraCosta College

The MiraCosta College campus in Oceanside is pictured in this undated photo.

Aired 8/23/16 on KPBS News.

MiraCosta College will put a $455 million bond measure on the November ballot. The community college narrowly missed passing a bond four years ago and hopes a slightly lower goal will convince voters to approve it this time.

MiraCosta College will put a $455 million bond measure on the November ballot. The community college narrowly missed passing a bond four years ago and hopes a slightly lower goal will convince voters to approve it this time.

In 2012, a bond for nearly $500 million failed by just 200 votes. To pass, it needed 55 percent of the vote. It got 54.8 percent.

A new college president, Sunny Cooke, took over last year. She said the board carefully reassessed their Master Plan and has reduced the bond by nearly $50 million.

“There are really no things that are ‘nice to have’ but are not essentials,” she said. “So the essentials are in this plan.”

One of the most important improvements would be more lab space. Nursing programs are in demand, and students complain they cannot get enough time in the lab to meet their course requirements.

The college is also about to launch a new, four-year degree next year, a bachelor’s degree in biomanufacturing.

More students than ever are enrolling in community college, Cooke said, because of the high cost of education in traditional four-year universities.

Education in community college can be much less expensive. For example, Cooke said, MiraCosta hopes to keep the cost of the biomanufacturing degree under $11,000 for the full four years.

MiraCosta has not passed a bond to improve aging buildings since the Oceanside campus was built in the 1960s, Cooke said. Many buildings have rusty plumbing, faulty wiring and leaky roofs. The bond money would be spent on improvements at campuses in Oceanside, Encinitas and Carlsbad.

MiraCosta gets 90 percent of its funding from property taxes and 80 percent of that goes to staff and faculty salaries. But a college statement said the bond money could not be used for salaries, pensions, or administrative costs. It would all be spent locally and a citizens committee would be appointed to oversee how it is spent.

The bond would be repaid through property taxes in coastal communities from Del Mar to Camp Pendleton. Partly because land values have risen, the amount of property tax it would take to cover the bond has fallen, Cooke said. In 2012 it would have cost homeowners almost $20 per $100,000 of assessed value. This year’s bond is projected to cost less than $15 per $100,000 of assessed value.

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