Proposition EE is a local education bond measure that will ensure that the MiraCosta Community College District can continue to serve students, active military and those returning veterans who are now looking to transition back into the civilian workforce.On Oct. 25, 2012, this newspaper published a column submitted by Oceanside resident Jim Downs. I write to rebut the ill-conceived arguments advanced by Mr. Downs and to encourage all readers of The Coast News to enthusiastically support Proposition EE.
Mr. Downs urged voters to oppose Proposition EE because MiraCosta College has historically provided competitive salaries to its faculty. This argument is a red herring. Proposition EE has nothing to do with employee salaries.
By law, proceeds from the sale of bonds may not be used for employee salaries. The expenditure of the bond money will be subject to stringent financial accountability requirements. By law, performance and financial audits will be performed annually. Additionally, an oversight committee shall ensure that taxpayers get the return on their investment that they deserve. These are just some of the reasons why Proposition EE has been endorsed by the San Diego Taxpayer’s Association.
MiraCosta College has not passed a facilities bond for more than fifty years. The money raised from the last bond measure in 1961 was used to construct the classrooms on the Oceanside Campus.
Classrooms don’t build or renovate themselves, however — and the need to now upgrade the college’s facilities is undeniable. MiraCosta College currently holds nursing classes in a converted day care center and chemistry labs are conducted in the horticulture classrooms. Last semester, the college had 8,000 students on the wait-list.
The reality is that community colleges represent the best deal for taxpayers in higher education today. The costs of tuition at public universities in California can range from $7,025 to $13,200 annually. The cost of attending a private university is more than three times as much. In contrast, a full academic course load at MiraCosta will cost a student only about $1,100 each year.
Importantly, Proposition EE will also enable MiraCosta to meet the needs of returning military veterans. This semester, the college is serving 1,740 veteran students, a 150 percent increase in the past 10 years.
With an anticipated 30,000 war veterans and their families expected to return to San Diego County in the next few years, approval of Proposition EE is needed to help these heroes transition back into the civilian workforce.
In sum, Proposition EE will expand opportunities for our local students and veterans to earn college credits, certifications and job skills at a reasonable price — and without incurring tens of thousands of dollars of student loan debt.
Think of how many students have benefited from the foresight shown by voters in 1961. Now it’s our turn. Think of how many students and returning military veterans will benefit over the next fifty years if Proposition EE is passed.
If, like me, the readers of this newspaper are concerned about our local economy, or whether someone they know can afford a high quality college education, voting Yes on Proposition EE is a smart investment.
Leon Page is a resident of Carlsbad and will be joining the Board of Trustees of the MiraCosta Community College District in December.