PCC is to significantly benefit from the passage of two statewide propositions from the Nov. 8 General Election ballot, propositions 51 and 55, by being able to rebuild the U Building and to retain teachers.
Proposition 51 will provide $9 billion for California school facilities through long-term loans. As of earlier this month, it is passing by 54 percent of the vote, making PCC very likely to receive funds according to a college spokesman.
The California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office prioritizes community college projects and determines which projects are awarded funds. So far, one PCC project has been prioritized by the state as highly important.
“The Pasadena Community College District has a project in our spending plan that is approximately $60.5 million,” said Paul Feist, a spokesperson for the Chancellor’s Office, in an email. “The state contribution to that would be $58.3 million, with PCC contributing $2.2 million.”
This project is the ‘U’ Building, Richard Storti, PCC assistant superintendent and vice president, confirmed.
“The ‘U’ Building at PCC is first on the prioritized list,” said Storti in an email.
Funding could take place as soon as 2017.
“We have submitted a request to the [state] Department of Finance for the projects approved by our Board of Governors to be included in the 2017-18 state budget,” wrote Feist. “If the projects are included in the state budget, and the budget is signed, money could be available during the early part of the fiscal year (August 2017).”
The massive 80,000 square-foot, four-story ‘U’ Building located on the east side of campus near the Science Village has been vacant for years. The structure, also known as Armen Sarafian Hall, would not withstand a strong earthquake, according to inspectors five years ago.
“With Proposition 51 funds, the ‘U’ Building could be rebuilt within five years and resume its original function as a science building,” said Storti.
Nursing, dental, biology, chemistry, and other science students could return to the building, which would be equipped with up-to-date science labs, according to Storti. The timing is dependent on the issuance of bonds.
PCC would have been looking at a longer time frame for rebuilding the ‘U’ Building if Proposition 51 hadn’t passed.
According to Storti, it is possible that the proposition could also fund seismic retrofitting for the ‘D’ and ‘E’ Buildings.
Proposition 55 will authorize the continuation of an estimated $14 million per year in state funding for PCC teachers’ salaries through a tax on those with high incomes.
Although PCC will be receiving funds for teacher salaries every year until 2030, the college will be experiencing the permanent loss of another $4 million per year, starting Jan. 1.
This is because in 2012, voters approved a temporary one-fourth cent increase in the statewide sales tax as part of the original Proposition 30 that is now being extended with Proposition 55. The sales tax increase ends this year.
“The decline…as a result of the expiration of sales tax proceeds is planned to be offset by reserves, increases in other funding areas, and reduced expenses where available,” said Storti. “Proposition 55 funds can be used only for instructional purposes—for teacher salaries, and the funds allow us to continue offering the classes that we offer.”
Salaries of both full time and part time instructors “across the board” can be paid for from Proposition 55 revenues, according to Storti.
However, the exact amount PCC receives is unpredictable. The income that is taxed to produce the funds varies from year to year, depending on the economy. Thus, Proposition 55 funds aren’t a guaranteed source of funds.
“The challenge is planning resources to meet the needs of students and the college,” said Storti . “We don’t know from year to year what the funding will be.”
If Proposition 55 had not passed, the college would have explored “other funding opportunities from the state, federal, and local levels,” according to Storti.
“Also, the college would have needed to explore potential cost reduction opportunities by examining expenses using the college’s integrated planning model with direct input from all of the constituency groups at PCC,” said Storti.