The Hartnell College Board of Trustees voted Tuesday (August 6) to place a $131 million bond before voters on the Nov. 5 ballot to repair, update and expand facilities at the 82-year-old campus.
By a vote of 6-1, trustees okayed the bond election to repair leaking and decaying walls, upgrade fire safety equipment, remove hazardous materials (such as asbestos and lead paint), upgrade technology equipment, provide access to more facilities by disabled individuals, and construct a new library, replacing the present structure built in 1959.
Improvements also would include additional classrooms and the renovation of several buildings, including the Merrill Science Hall, built in 1964, and the Visual Arts Building, built in 1977. Specifically, the bond would provide:
Valeau noted that state funding over the years has been inadequate and inconsistent.
The bond's passage would require homeowners to be taxed $19.83 per $100,000 of assessed valuation for 12-15 years, according to college officials. The number of years would vary depending on possible additional funding from the state.
In heartfelt and sincere concern for the future of their college, more than 40 individuals-including students, alumni, former trustees, Hartnell College Foundation directors, business and community members-spoke at the trustees' meeting.
Representatives from Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital and Mee Memorial Hospital of King City told trustees that their respective boards of directors have gone on record in favor of the bond's passage. Hartnell trains more than 200 students annually in nursing, health-care professions and emergency safety care, providing important health/safety services for the local community. Mark Gallegos, representing the Salinas Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, also spoke in favor of the bond, along with Oly Gomez, small business owner.
Following the audience comments, Board members expressed their feelings and concerns about the bond measure. Trustee John Martinez indicated that the people in his district, primarily south county, have always considered Hartnell to be their college of choice. "I represent a population of hard-working families who want their children to succeed. Hartnell is the key to their future."
Trustee Carl Cieslikowski, representing the north county, said "the college administration and staff have worked hard to gather the facts and pull this issue together for us. It is now our obligation to support their efforts by placing this measure before the voters."
Trustee Valerie Golden said, "My family has to work very hard to keep up economically. If it were not for Hartnell College, I don't think my two beautiful children would have been able to attend college. I want every child to have that chance and this bond will make that possible."
Board President Darlene Dunham said, "As stewards of Hartnell College, we have an obligation to ensure that the next generation of students is as well-served as the current and past students. That means we must plan and prepare for maintaining our technology, upgrading our facilities and increasing our capacity to serve many more students. We have an obligation to place this bond before the citizens of our community."
The bond measure will fall under California's Proposition 39, which requires that a school bond proposal needs a 55 percent yes vote to pass. By law, the bond would be subject to strict fiscal accountability requirements that include independent annual performance/fiscal audits.