YCCD Contemplating Nov. Ballot Bond Measure
Sonora, CA — The Mother Lode’s community college district’s trustees are carefully weighing if they might ask voters to consider a significant spending measure come November.
Yosemite Community College District (YCCD) Area 1 Trustee and former Tuolumne County Superintendent of Schools Margie Bulkin shares details with Clarke Broadcasting. “The district is right now in the process of whether or not to float a bond measure and…examining survey results of the entire Yosemite Community College District footprint,” she states.
Bulkin says the opinion sampling was conducted across the district a few weeks ago and compiled for the board to review at its last meeting. The survey tested public opinion on $550 million in bond sales that would raise $35 million for the purposes of renovating or replacing older classroom facilities, constructing new facilities, and conducting equipment replacement and removal of safety hazards from campus facilities.
Nearly 16 years ago voters in the Yosemite Community College District approved Measure E, for which taxpayers are still paying. It authorized a $326 million general obligation bond for the repair, upgrade and new construction of Modesto Junior College and Columbia College facilities, and the expansion of college education centers in Patterson, Oakdale, Turlock and Angels Camp.
While Bulkin describes the results of the recent polling as potentially promising, she says the board is taking a very conservative approach in examining exactly what the gathered data means before deciding to bring it to an agenda for action.
Towards that end, on Wednesday, Bulkin participated in a special trustees’ study session on the topic at YCCD headquarters. “If anything, it tells you that the board is proceeding with caution,” she confides.
Local Benefits Yet To Be Determined
While the bond would be for the entire YCCD footprint, Bulkin, who represents the area serving Columbia College, says she wants to be able to have a good understanding of how it would affect that campus, since it is considered as comparatively in need of less repair than the Modesto ones.
“That’s one of the big questions I would have and whether a bond and the citizens’ participation…would precipitate in something considerably dramatic in improvements for the trustee area that I serve.” In addition to Tuolumne County, Bulkin’s area includes portions of Calaveras and Stanislaus counties.
She continues, “I am proud that the board has a lot of questions about it because asking the citizens to support a bond is a big ask and the board wants to make sure that every aspect of it is something in critical need that we would really need to appeal to the public in support of.”
As a longtime administrator with experience as Tuolumne County’s education head, Bulkin points to ongoing state struggles to support aging facilities without the money to repair and replace a number of them, even with funds set aside for the purpose.
“[It] cannot keep up with the costs of today’s market to keep them safe and useable — we are always going to have this question but [for a bond measure] we want to make sure the timing is appropriate and the need is legitimate,” she states.
The trustees have until sometime in June to decide and get the necessary paperwork in motion should they opt towards proposing a ballot measure. In the meantime, Bulkin says, “I am very happy to hear from and welcome the opinion of voters.”