All of our excellent local schools deserve our committed financial support, and I urge voters to support measures G and H on the March 3 primary ballot.
Measures G and H will enable Foothill-De Anza Community College District voters to invest in the continued success and financial stability of Foothill and De Anza colleges. Specifically, Measure G would authorize up to $898 million in bonds to upgrade and repair aging classrooms and labs, and to acquire and construct new facilities. Measure H would raise $5.6 million annually for each of the next five years through a $48 annual parcel tax.
District voters regularly approve (by comfortable margins) bond and parcel tax measures to support our local elementary and high school districts, and we should vote to approve both measures G and H for very similar reasons.
First, Foothill and De Anza are our local schools. They serve mostly local students and their campuses are closely integrated with our local community. Both campuses host performances, educational programs, camps, sports events, speeches and classes attended by members of the community who are not enrolled as students.
Also, like our local public elementary and high schools, Foothill and De Anza provide services that are critical to the social, political and economic well-being of our community. There was a time when a solid K-12 education was sufficient to get a decent-paying job and participate fully in civic life, but increasingly experts consider a K-14 education or beyond necessary to achieve financial stability and participate fully in our economy, especially in a high-cost area such as ours.
Foothill and De Anza are similar to our local K-12 schools in another way: They need the money. Like many of our local schools, Foothill and De Anza have aging infrastructure that needs to be repaired, updated and expanded. Also, the high cost of living in our area has left many students without enough to eat or a place to sleep, and as in our K-12 schools, it is increasingly hard to recruit and retain faculty and staff.
The good news is that Foothill and De Anza are also a good investment, and a good value. The cost to attend a UC or CSU school is five times higher (or more!) than Foothill and De Anza. Moreover, Foothill and De Anza offer students the option to complete a two-year degree, pursue vocational training and/or take advantage of programs that guarantee acceptance at a UC or CSU to finish a four-year degree. In fact, De Anza is the biggest feeder school for students transferring into the UC and CSU systems. Local school counselors will tell you there is no surer path to a UC or CSU degree.
Finally, like our K-12 schools, the excellence achieved by both Foothill and De Anza, and the options they afford our kids, contribute greatly to the value of homes and other properties in the district. Both schools consistently are ranked in the very top of their class of similarly-sized community colleges in statewide and even national rankings. These are schools we can and should be proud of — and it's smart to invest in their continued success.
For all the above reasons, I hope you'll join me, the Santa Clara County Democratic Party (which I lead), the League of Women Voters of Cupertino-Sunnyvale, and numerous current and former elected officials and community organizations in supporting measures G and H on March 3. Our local community colleges and their students deserve our support!
Bill James is chair of the Santa Clara County Democratic Party, which has endorsed measures G and H.