ELAC awaits district approval of funds for construction of new facilities

SAFE—The baseball field parking lot got taken out of the moratorium and will begin being transformed into a playing field later in the year. CN/Edgar Lopez

By Rodolfo Trujillo

While some ELAC students and instructors have state-of-the-art classrooms, others might have to wait months to find out if they will ever get to see a new facility.

The Los Angeles Community College District is currently reviewing a request from ELAC to allow construction of the Science Career and Mathematics building, Baseball Field Renovation, Campus Student Center/Bookstore Complex and the Student Success and Retention Center.

In October 2011, district officials decided to stop any construction projects not yet started in order to review the costs. This was done after a scathing series of articles by the Los Angeles Times in February 2011 that alleged the district mismanaged $6 billion allocated by the bond issue. Bond moneys are to be used to renovate and improve community colleges.

In December, they decided to extend that so-called “moratorium” and assess it in 90 days. The construction of the parking structure on the corner of Collegian and Floral Avenues, the Weingart Stadium East End Zone Plaza and the renovation of the Helen Miller Bailey Library are continuing as planned.

The nursing and other health career programs, which were due to be moved to a recently acquired building on Corporate Center Drive, will now remain at their present locations.  The college does not have any more money in their current budget to make that move possible.

The move and upgrade to the new building would cost over $21 million, the same amount that ELAC needs to give to the district to hold.  That money is to ensure that the college has money in its reserves to cover any unexpected expenses.Originally, the only project that was to be released from the moratorium was the baseball field.

According to Tom Furukawa, Vice-President of Administrative Services, it was the only project that clearly met the criteria set by the district for removal from the moratorium: not needing additional money for maintenance or operation than that already in the budget, not adding square footage and not adding “overall change in space utilization.”

After consulting with other school officials, it was decided that ELAC would ask for all of the projects, minus the Health Careers Center, in hopes of getting approval of as many projects as possible. “We realize the need of the students and want to move as quickly as possible,” Furukawa said.

The Science Career and Mathematics building will house the Departments of Chemistry, Anthropology, Geography and Geology, Life Sciences, Mathematics and Physics as well as the Math Lab. The new building will increase the number of instructional spaces by 15, including five large lecture halls and three computer classrooms, capable of accommodating 200 sections when the college plans its phased growth.  It will be built in the area where the now-vacant G5, G6, H5 and H6 are.

The Student Success and Retention Center will house the Departments of English, English as a Second Language, Chicano Studies, Foreign Language, Speech and non-credit courses. An additional 100 sections should be accommodated with the new space.  It will also house the Reading Center, Writing Center, Learning Center and non-credit learning labs. The building will be in the area where E3 and E5 are now.

Those buildings were scheduled to be demolished at the end of last year, when the moratorium ordered those plans to stop.The college has never had a permanent home for the English Department, and its classrooms offices. The Campus Student Center/Bookstore Complex will include a student store, a multi-purpose room and space for Veterans Services, International Students, ASU, Student Activities and the Health Center.

There will also be food services, with a seating capacity for up to 220 students, Furukowa said. The old baseball field has to be converted from its current use as a parking lot so the team can have their field back,  after years of having it taken away for to accommodate the increase in student parking.  This will mean that the team will not have to pay for transportation to Cal State Los Angeles and the use of CSULA’s field.

According to Alex Immerblum, English instructor and Academic Senate President, “If we don’t get these projects off the list, then it could take up to another four to six months to get them approved.” The issue, Immerblum said,  isn’t with campus officials but with the blanket solution that the district has set up in response to criticisms that it was mismanaging funds. “It’s demoralizing that we got to  the point where we were ready to build, then told at the last moment, ‘you have to stop,’” said Immerblum.




Corrections were made in this story from the print version.

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