Gavilan approves bond measure for Nov. ballot

A measure asking the voters for $248 million worth of bonds to upgrade Gavilan College’s main campus, as well as its Coyote Valley and San Benito County satellite sites, will appear on the Nov. 6 ballot.

The measure will require 55 percent voter approval to pass.

Gavilan Joint College District Board President Jonathan Brusco confirmed a unanimous vote among the five trustees in attendance at the July 10 meeting, with two members absent from the proceedings.

“If this were to pass, this would line the college up for the next decade,” said Brusco, who stressed that the potential funds would impact all three Gavilan sites. “When you break down the money, it computes to less than $100 per year for the average property owner. For me, that’s well worth it for all the things we can do to improve student success.”

If approved, the $248 million debt would be paid off over the next 28 years through property taxes on the assessed value of homes in San Benito County and southern Santa Clara County.

Brusco said the timing is right, with the population growth in Santa Clara and San Benito counties nurturing an increase in demand for programs at the community college level, along with the availability of state matching funds for school construction projects.

“The school is really reaching a new stride in the South Valley,” Brusco said.

Possible targets for the bond monies, outlined in Gavilan’s master facilities plan, include a new library and technology center and new performing arts theater at the main Gilroy campus; the first phase of construction for the proposed San Benito satellite campus; and expansion of classroom facilities at the Coyote Valley satellite campus.

“This is the biggest decision the school has ever made other than to move to the (current) Gavilan site. This is $248 million and this will take us far into the future,” said Trustee Laura Perry, who has been on the Gavilan board for more than a quarter-century. “We have huge demands on campus now. Technology has run ahead of us. This is huge for our students and our community.”

The deadline to submit the bond measure and file all documents with the Santa Clara County Registrar’s Office is Aug. 10. From there, a Political Action Committee, independent from Gavilan, will begin the fundraising and campaigning efforts leading into the Nov. 6 election.

This is the second bond measure in the history of Gavilan, according to Perry. The first, Measure E, “did everything we said it was going to do and did it on time and didn’t go over budget,” Perry said.

Projects for the $104 million Measure E, approved in 2004, included modernization of the Gilroy campus, land purchases for the Coyote Valley and San Benito County campuses, new tennis courts, swimming pool, gymnasium, beach volleyball courts and softball/baseball athletic complex.

Trustee Lois Bandeira-Locci was absent from the July 10 meeting and did not take part in the vote to approve the latest bond measure, but said she supports it.

“A California community college is an economic gift that sustains over time, stimulating local commerce and reducing the cost of higher education for 2.1 million students statewide,” said Bandeira-Locci. She estimated a savings of $100,000 (based on tuition and housing) for a student who begins at a community college and then transfers to a University of California campus.

“Most ardently, I trust voters will not want to punish the (Gavilan) district for past actions, both real and imagined, and rather support the future of our young people and our communities in South San Jose, Morgan Hill, Gilroy, Aromas, San Martin and San Benito County,” Bandeira-Locci concluded.

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  1. I taught at Gav for nearly three decades. The college in the 80s was a cheerful place to be, filled with camaraderie and school spirit. A disastrous series of faculty and administrative appointments in the 90s put an end to that, and sent Gav spiraling downward. That situation, lamentably, has not changed. So I urge the public not to vote for bond funding in November.

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