Updated: Sep 17, 2020
The district has over $3 billion in unobligated bond money, most of it tied to bond Measure CC, which was passed by 75% of the electorate in November 2016.
Measure CC was designed to upgrade classrooms, facilities, and technology in order to expand access to training programs that help students learn new skills and find better paying jobs in manufacturing, biotech, nursing, engineering, and other high-demand careers. These are important objectives, particularly as we look at re-building our economy.
The workforce development objectives of the measure can be met in a way that also addresses other needs in our communities.
As a member of the Board of Trustees, I will work to build a coalition that will re-imagine the District’s bond program with 3 major objectives:
Expedite the spending of the money to spur our economic recovery.
Independently audit the District’s own internal study that showed campus facilities were overbuilt and underutilized, costing the district $4M annually in maintenance and upkeep.
Re-direct funds into student and workforce housing, living laboratories for sustainability and economic development, and satellite facilities in communities that need investment.
Live/learn concepts (i.e. housing and academic facilities combined into one complex) would allow the district to meet Measure CC’s objectives and deliver housing at the same time. To really deliver on Measure CC’s workforce development objectives, the live/learn hub concept developed for the District by the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing should be reimagined for off-campus implementation. The District has a precedent for building and maintaining satellite facilities off-campus, so this isn’t a radical idea.
Other colleges and universities are building live/learn housing facilities off their campuses with the express purpose of fostering connections and collaboration with the community at-large. A very good example is Cal State Long Beach, which is building a live/learn hub in downtown Long Beach with the express purpose of activating “new economic opportunities and academic partnerships.”
I see great potential for the District to build live/learn hubs of its own in places like East L.A.’s Bioscience Corridor or the media districts in and around Culver City, giving students access to industries that are expected to have high future employment demand.
Given how acute our housing crisis is, investments like these should be prioritized and they must also acknowledge the individual needs of LGBTQ+, African American and Indigenous students who all suffer from housing instability and homelessness at rates higher than the general student population.
The District has incorporated sustainability into its bond program and this has led to a positive environmental impact, provided the District with savings and has created learning opportunities for some students. For example, the District has installed over 10 MW of solar energy resulting in savings of over $10 million. These solar installations provide additional benefits by serving as a living lab for students enrolled in Renewable Energy Programs such as those offered through Los Angeles Trade-Tech College.
The idea of using bond money to create living laboratories needs to be expanded – particularly where those living laboratories can provide students with hands-on experience in green and clean energy jobs.
We need to look at this bond money as an opportunity to invest in places that want and need new investment. One way the District could answer the call of BLM L.A. is by investing its dollars in African American South Los Angeles. This would require a creative use of Measure CC funds, but there are so many ways to think out of the box and really do something meaningful for the community. For example, a satellite facility devoted to clean energy jobs training affiliated with West Los Angeles College and/or Los Angeles Southwest College could be built in South L.A.. Given the fact that all jobs in the future will require critical analysis skills, a permanent home for the The Mayme A. Clayton Library and Museum could be built with District funds to create a new District-wide center for African American studies as well as library and museum studies. The possibilities are endless if we have the vision and the will to make it happen. I have both and I am committed to seeing this type of transformational investment happen with public dollars.