I am responding to the Oct. 9 editorial, “Close calls for auditor, CR trustee.”
I never endorse a College of the Redwoods candidate for trustee, and I am not making an exception now. However, there were several perceptions as noted by a candidate in your editorial that I believe incorrectly represents CR’s support of the Del Norte Center and its community, to which I must respond.
First, you note that challenger McCollum claims that a science lab facility has not been delivered as promised years ago.That statement does not represent the complete story.
Two years ago, after all Measure Q local bond funds had been spent or committed, Trustee Rick Bennett gained the support of the trustees to terminate the construction of a new Eureka campus student union so that remaining bond funds could be redirected to higher priority projects like the science lab facility at Del Norte. That successful action has resulted in the commitment of Measure Q funds to match state funds for the proposed construction of a $7.7 million new health services building that will include state-of-the- art science labs.
This project will provide efficient and modern facilities for the health services program and includes offices, lecture meeting areas, classrooms and simulation labs. It will also replace all existing portable structures. In the meantime, $250,000 of bond funds has been committed to mitigate the original need for new science laboratories by immediately renovating and upgrading the Center’s existing science laboratory.
There is an inference of territorial rights by claiming that there is not an established needto purchase and renovate the Garberville elementary school and site. Despite more than 165 Garberville-area students who currently commute more than one hour to the Eureka campus from Garberville, the South Fork high school and general population still have the lowest college attendance rates in our three-county district.
Proximately is access, and CR is not in the area serving the southern Humboldt communities. The southern Humboldt residents have another right to expect better access to CR’s college transfer and career-oriented curriculum. While they overwhelmingly voted for the last local bond issue, Measure Q, not one dollar has returned to their community prior to the purchase of the abandoned Garberville elementary school.
The decision to purchase the Garberville elementary school and site for $200,000 was an extremely cost-efficient option. Building an equivalent site would have cost millions of dollars. Even with renovation costs included, the southern Humboldt residents have contributed more than two tax dollars for every dollar they will be receiving from Measure Q funds. In comparison, the Del Norte County will have received more than a dollar-for-dollar return for their Measure Q taxes paid.
Good trusteeship means fair treatment to all of CR’s residents. I believe that the Del Norte community understands this concept and with this added information, will support the trustees’decision to establish a southern Humboldt County site as being important to our northwest California region’s economic success.
While the replacement of the business technology instructor is partially an issue of timing (both financial and curricular), this decision was outside the scope and responsibilities of the trustees. This specific concern does not address the greater plan.
The Del Norte Center is in the process of being transformed into a larger and more dynamic instructional educational center. The Del Norte Center is currently undergoing an educational master plan study that promises to increase enrollment by adding program degrees and offering wider community support services such as early basic skills assessment and college courses at the high schools. This is not an agenda that reflects a district that has forgotten the Del Norte Center.
I agree with the Daily Triplicate’s assessment that both candidates for the CR Trustee position are fine people and highly knowledgeable about the College of the Redwoodsdistrict. I only hope that in the process of presenting their best cases for votes, there will not be a perception that the College of the Redwoods has been anything but fair to the Del Norte Center and the community it serves.
I also hope that whichever candidate is elected, the long-standing tradition that the board operates and plans with a district-wide perspective will survive. This will be the only way we will be able to combine our resources and talents to help provide a relevant 21st century higher education program for all of our communities.
Jeff Marsee is president/superintendent of College of the Redwoods.