ENCINITAS — For years, students attending MiraCosta College’s San Elijo campus would have to take traffic-filled commutes to the Oceanside campus for science courses required for their associate’s degrees.
Come 7:30 a.m. Tuesday that all changes as officials celebrate the opening of the 4,700-square-foot science building on the South Encinitas campus.
“There were a couple of reasons, but the main reason was that students who needed to take higher level science classes weren’t able to do so in the current labs, and had to drive up to Oceanside, so a lot of majors could not be completed at the Cardiff campus,” MiraCosta spokeswoman Cheryl Broom said. “We had to build the lab to allow students to take classes if they needed so they could stay at the San Elijo campus and get their degree done.”
The $5.3 million building — paid for out of district reserves — accommodates a chemistry lab, general lab and a preparation lab, additional space for instruments, equipment and storage and an outdoor area for student gathering. It is the first new construction on the campus since the expansion of the student center in 2009.
Broom said the additional classroom space will allow district officials to schedule more science offerings at the lower campus.
“Science labs are always in high demand,” Broom said. “This was the board of trustees top priority.”
The labs were such a high priority that the district proceeded with the project using reserves — nearly 20 percent of the previous $22 million pot — to build it after a bond measure was defeated in 2012. District officials pointed out though, that the $17.3 million left in the reserves is higher than the board’s policy of an 8 percent reserves-to-budget ratio.
Local residents and students are thrilled with the addition.
Encinitas Councilwoman Teresa Barth, who graduated from the San Elijo campus in 1991, called the building a “great addition to the community.”
“As an elected official, I always say that in Encinitas we have an incredible education system from pre-K to the community college level,” said Barth, who continues to support the campus’ goals. “I think it is great to see the San Elijo campus continue to expand and provide more classes to our local students in this area.”
Broom said the campus should see more activity in 2015 when several of the campus’ older buildings are retrofitted.