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MiraCosta leader talks bond

RANCHO SANTA FE — Dr. Francisco Rodriguez, president of MiraCosta College, gave a presentation to the Rancho Santa Fe Association at its Sept. 6 meeting. 

Association member Connie Matsui (Beckman) requested the time at the meeting for Rodriguez to give an informal talk on a potential facilities improvement bond for the college.

Rodriguez told the board that the college has recently completed a comprehensive master plan, which has motivated it to ask the North County community for $497 million to upgrade current buildings, update labs and add new buildings such as an Allied Health building, he said.

“We have not asked the community for a bond since the college was built in 1961,” he said.

Rodriguez said that many students must wait for as long as two years for classes, especially science classes like chemistry, which is a prerequisite to other courses like nursing.

“It now takes an average of seven semesters to get a two-year degree,” he said.

“The students who are most successful are the ones to go right away after high school,” he said.

He said about three out of 10 students begin their college careers at community colleges such as MiraCosta.

Throughout the state there are 72 community college districts including 112 colleges with 2.4 million students.

He said many of the county’s first responders such as firefighters and emergency medical technicians receive training at MiraCosta.

“Community colleges give the best bang for the buck,” he said.

He said the average tuition for a four-year college is about $25,000 a year, but a student can get a start at a feeder institution like MiraCosta for a fraction of that.

MiraCosta, which has 18,000 students, like other community colleges, is largely funded by property taxes. It has three campuses in North County.

“Your program is the best deal in California,” said Association director Eamon Callahan, who has a son who started his college career there.

The bond would have a total payoff of about $900 million over 25 years and would cost an extra $20 a year for every $100,000 of a homes value.

Rodriguez said the money is necessary for the college to stay “nimble” and to keep up with the expectation of the students.

He said he and other college officials take the responsibility of educating the community’s youth very seriously.

“I want you to know your community college district is in good hands,” he said.

“All of the money would stay local. It will be used improvements, renovation and modernization.”