By: Freddy Monares
Students around the construction site for the new Student Success and Retention Center building last week might have noticed some graffiti on the plywood walls surrounding the construction site that read, “What about money for education?”
Presumably, the person that wrote on the wall is asking this question in light of frequently hearing that classes and even entire winter sessions have been getting cut at East Los Angeles College.
But, the recent budget update is said to put ELAC up from this year’s current budget of $14.72 million and $5.89 million from the 2011-12 budget for the 2013-14 year.
The district is said to be up as a whole $2.01 billion from our current fiscal year.
So, what about money for education? It’s actually coming back to the LACCD little-by-little due to the recent passing of Proposition 30 in Nov. 2012 and the state’s economy slow recovery.
In fact, the winter session at ELAC was recently reinstated because of the increase of the 2013-14 budget.
The Los Angeles Community College District is looking at an enrollment growth target of 3.63 percent, 2 percent above the state funded growth cap of 1.63 percent.
But, the money for construction of the Student Success and Retention Center is not taken from money intended for instructional purposes.
It is important to understand where the money for these new buildings is coming from, or else students developed mis-informed opinions about building projects suddenly popping up around campus.
The money for the new Student Success and Retention Center comes from $3.5 billion received from Bond Measure J, sponsored by the Board of Trustees of the Los Angeles Community College District.
The bond was passed in Nov. 2008 in the general election.
According to smartvoter.org, funds received from the sale of the bonds would be used for specific projects certified by the District Board of Trustees.
These projects include the leasing of land and/or facilities, improving and repairing security and infrastructure conditions, expanding education to meet needs of the community and acquiring furnishings and equipment.
Measure J also provides for modernization, renovation, improvement of existing buildings and new construction projects, installing and/or upgrading emergency lighting, fire alarm and security systems.
The bond specifically states, “No bond proceeds may be used for administrator or teacher salaries, or other operating expenses of the district.”
The student that wrote on the construction site wall also failed to realize that the building would house classes for education, the very issue in question.
The five-story structure will consolidate nine departments into a flexible learning environment, including classrooms, offices and common areas.
The classrooms are said to have an adaptable design, allowing professors to re-arrange furniture for different learning options. This is done to promote collaborative student-faculty interaction.
HGA is the Architecture Company for the project. “Creating flexible spaces that easily re-configured for multiple uses and teaching modalities is an important component of the design, as needs and programs will evolve throughout the years,” said HGA’s principal-in-charge James Matson.
The building will also feature an outdoor classroom atrium and an enclosed office atrium to offer informal student gathering spaces while reinforcing natural ventilation, day lighting and visual connectivity between floors.
This will be a space for students to meet for group projects, study and provide a comfortable environment for conversations with instructors.
Additionally, if students are having trouble with subjects such as languages, reading and writing, the building will have tutoring and learning labs that will be located on the first and second levels.
Besides, why would anyone construct a building on a college campus for anything other than educational purposes?