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Guest opinion: An investment in local higher education

Vote yes on measures G and H

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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.

We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Robyn
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2020 at 4:36 pm

Our pockets are not bottomless.
This is death by a thousand cuts.
Should we skip 10 lunches at $4.80 to pay for this?


4 people like this
Posted by Supporting Our Kids
a resident of another community
on Feb 18, 2020 at 4:57 pm

FHDA is a tremendous asset and good value — well worth the modest investment! Many of us in this area have achieved our success through education. Let’s pay it forward by investing for this generation of students and beyond.


9 people like this
Posted by Gary
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Feb 18, 2020 at 7:41 pm

Maybe the author will post a comment and tell voters: (1) why Measure G promises no particular projects, (2) what the interest rate for CA community college bonds is currently, (3) what the interest rate will be on bonds sold over each of the next 18 years ($898 million at no more than $48 million per year under the measure's language, (3) how many College District employees already receive annual compensation from the District in excess of $175,000 (see TransparentCalifornia.org) and (4) what percentage of District students were residents of the District before enrolling.


9 people like this
Posted by Enough already
a resident of another community
on Feb 24, 2020 at 6:46 pm

Measure H is simply not needed. Measure G is highly excessive. We already spend hundreds of millions per year to support Foothill and Deanza. That doesn't need further approval. That funding has been increasing. It's enough.

If you give these turkeys another Billion they will squander it on worthless stuff. Do we really need a fancy new gym facility for these JC's? How about more parking garages? Maybe some nice high rises. a Billion will buy an awful lot of paint.


1 person likes this
Posted by Chris Robell
a resident of another community
on Feb 28, 2020 at 6:23 am

This is the most reckless and unfair bond measure I have ever studied. There is a long list of projects that MIGHT be funded (new buildings, parking lots, solar panels, technology, raises, housing, etc.

It reads as if there isn't already a school there. There should be a SPECIFIC need or set of needs clearly articulated. Then the funding necessary to pay for this should be secured in a responsible way. And when enrollment is down 13% and 77% of the kids are from out of district, this is further reason to question. Oh, and don't forget there has been almost $750 million in the last two college district bond measures (most recently in 2012)...where is that money going? Crickets when you ask that question to the proponents. Any we should give more money to them and trust they will "invest" another $898 million?

Structuring and assessment is also problematic: $898 million spread over 20 years at unknown, future (probably higher) interest rates. And then the tax is funded in a way whereby the YOUNG generation disproportionately pay for it since it's based on assessed value (doubling down on the old Prop 13) whereas old timers who made millions on their home and already pay low property taxes pay very little. Everyone should pay a reasonable and same amount of money. Don't screw the youth.

The proponents just say the sacred cow word "Schools" and "invest in kids". I'm all for investment in schools, but it needs to be done responsibly.


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