School bond passes first test
Voters in western Nevada County and Truckee will be asked to consider two Sierra College bond measures in November, a majority of trustees of the Sierra Joint Community College District decided Tuesday.
In Grass Valley and Nevada City, voters will be asked to approve $44.4 million in bonds to upgrade and add facilities to the Nevada County campus. Truckee and eastern Nevada County voters will consider a $35 million bond to purchase a 72-acre parcel in Truckee to build a permanent campus capable of handling 500 full-time students by the year 2015.
The passage of both bonds requires a 55 percent majority, a threshold voters were unable to meet in March. Just 49 percent of of residents within Sierra College’s four-county attendance area voted for the $384 million Measure E.
Nevada County voters showed the strongest support for the bond measure, with 54 percent approving the move.
Nevada County trustees were confident the localization of the bonds would help their passage on Nov. 2.
“I think we have a lot more going for us now than last time,” said trustee David Creek, who joined the majority in voting 5-1, with trustee Jerry Simmons absent, for the western Nevada County bonds. The Truckee bonds were approved by a 5-0 margin, with one abstention.
“I think we have a pretty good chance in western Nevada County, because this is just for us,” said Nancy Palmer. “We’ll be able to drive by it and see it being built.”
Palmer raised a slight objection after learning nearly $13 million of the projected bond would pay for physical education classrooms and improvements.
“I’d rather have classrooms, classrooms and classrooms,” she said after the board’s vote. “That’s all I’ve been saying for the last four years.”
The bond is projected to pay for a police and fire training center, a public and performing arts center, renovations to computer labs and increased space for a nursing program, which Palmer pushed for years. Nursing students in Nevada County must now travel to Rocklin to take most of their classes.
The local bonds would cost property owners around $19 per $100,000 in assessed value of their property, the same threshold they were asked to pay in March.
Trustees insisted on keeping the burden to taxpayers at less than $20 per $100,000 of their assessed property values.
In western Nevada County, voters will be drawn from the Nevada Joint Union High School District. Truckee voters will be comprised of residents living within the boundaries of the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District.
Lincoln-area trustee Barbara Vineyard cast the dissenting vote against the bond measure for western Nevada County and abstained from voting on the Truckee-area bonds. She said she supports a full-service Truckee campus, but added she felt the board’s actions were dividing the district and not treating the community college district as a united entity. The district includes campuses in Rocklin and Roseville in addition to the campuses in Grass Valley and Truckee.
“I have a fundamental block against dividing the district,” Vineyard said. “I don’t think we should think of this as “us versus them,” she said, referring to the delineation between the Placer and Nevada County campuses. “It should be we,” she said, adding it’s important to educate voters on the cohesiveness of the district as a single unit. “I’m not sure how to do that,” she said.
Nevada County Campus provost Tina Ludutsky-Taylor said she’s ready to bring a locally-focused campaign to the voters.
“We will be successful in passing whatever this new bond measure is called,” she said, adding that a bond committee would be forming this summer. “It’s local people who will be voting to support their local community college.
“I have a lot of passion for this college,” said Ludutsky-Taylor, who joined the Nevada County campus in 1995, one year before it began admitting students. “I believe that passion is shared by large segments of Nevada County.”
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