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Delta College growing pains

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Posted: Friday, April 27, 2007 10:00 pm

In March 2004, voters in the San Joaquin Delta College district approved Measure L, a $250 million bond - by far the largest in the college's history.

The measure promised to establish satellite campuses in Lodi, Galt, Tracy, and the foothills and provide for extensive upgrades at Delta's main Stockton campus and its Manteca Farm.

But after three years of planning, Delta has not built a single new classroom, while consultant and construction costs continue to soar. It's top priority, a 100-acre satellite campus in Mountain House, northwest of Tracy, is now expected to cost $95 million. That's up more than $30 million from estimates in 2003.

Residents, and even some Delta trustees, have questioned whether projects in Lodi, Manteca and other communities could be in jeopardy.

Two trustees, Ted Simas and Greg McCreary, have for months blasted their colleagues for sticking with the Mountain House project, when the city of Tracy offered a free piece of land to Delta in its place.

And more recently, four of Delta's five top administrators have taken steps to leave the college, submitting applications for posts elsewhere.

Still, Delta administrators and a bloc of five trustees have defended their handling of the Measure L projects, saying such work necessarily takes time.

Board of Trustees President Maria Serna said the college will not abandon communities like Lodi or Manteca because of cost overruns at Mountain House.

At the same time, she and Trustee Dan Parises have noted that the college simply cannot walk away from Mountain House now, citing the many commitments Delta has made to that community - commitments which are legally enforceable. They maintain that students wouldn't be safe at the alternative Tracy site, where they said rail cars filled with ammonium are parked nearby.

"We will keep our promise to the voters," Serna said Thursday. "I want to reassure everyone, irregardless of what's transpiring, we will get the (educational) facilities out to the communities."

As it stands now, Delta trustees have pledged to build temporary campuses - using portable classrooms - at Mountain House by 2008 and in Lodi by 2010.

That's a far cry from what was pitched, at least in Lodi, where walking trails, a viticulture center and outdoor amphitheater were described as a part of a permanent campus.

And while they're moving forward with land purchase agreements in Galt, no money has been set aside for classrooms there or in Valley Springs.

Trustees next week will consider dropping the Valley Springs site from their plans altogether.

The ballooning cost estimates have affected not just the satellite campus plans but also projects at the Stockton campus.

Trustees have committed to building the $27.5 million Gateway center, a "one-stop-shop" for student services, along with several other major buildings.

And they're also moving forward with plans to build a $61 million math and science complex, and modernize the campus' Goelman Library. But at their next meeting they'll consider cutting more than $17 million in road improvements, sports and other projects.

Combined, the district has had to delay plans for more than $100 million of projects on the Stockton campus alone, Trustee Simas said.

"Every day we're back at the drawing board of: 'What do we have to cut out,'" Simas said, adding the college should have focused on just a few projects, not the dozens it promised with Measure L.

Contact reporter Chris Nichols at chrisn@lodinews.com.

Maria Serna
Board of Trustees President
Occupation: Retired, former government and history teacher for the Lodi Unified School District
Education: Earned a bachelors degree in political science from University of Pacific in 1973; a cross cultural bilingual specialist teaching credential from Sacramento State University in 1980.
Years on board: 17
Represents: Lodi
How would you grade Delta's handling of Measure L?
"I would certainly give it an A-/B+," she said. "It takes a very long process for the planning of projects." She noted that the size and complexity of the bond has slowed the college from making decisions faster.
Place on the board: Serna has consistently supported the Mountain House project. She was criticized by Trustee Ted Simas for allowing developer Gary Kamilos back out of millions of dollars worth of traffic mitigation funds, a claim she strongly denies. Serna said she sees her role on the board as a unifier.
Leo Burke
Board of Trustees Vice President
Occupation: Retired, formerly worked as a manager at the Stockton Memorial Auditorium.
Education: Earned an associate's degree at Burlington Community College in Iowa in the 1940s.
Years on board: 28
Represents: Central Stockton
How would you grade Delta's handling of Measure L?
"I would say a C because I think we should be further along than we are," he said. Burke said both trustees and Delta administrators share the blame for project delays.
Place on board: Burke has largely voted with the majority of the board on the various bond projects. He said the delays with Measure L have not taken away from what is a strong college and an "outstanding faculty."
Dan Parises
Occupation: Grape farmer
Education: Earned an associates degree in agricultural business from Delta College in 1957.
Years on board: 32
Represents: Galt, Linden, Lockeford, Clements, Valley Springs and San Andreas
How has Delta handled Measure L?
"The board (of trustees) gets an A-," Parises said, though he said overall the college should get a C. He cited Delta President Raul Rodriguez for delaying the Mountain House project, after the majority of the board had voted to go forward with it. "He was listening to the other trustees and majority rules," he said.
Place on the board: Parises has voted consistently to move forward with the Mountain House project, and publicly squabbled with Trustee Ted Simas over bond issues.

Ted Simas

Ted Simas
Occupation: Co-owner of an insurance company in Manteca.
Education: Earned a bachelors of science degree in commerce from the University of Santa Clara.
Years on board: 13. Simas has said this will be his final term.
Represents: Manteca.
How has Delta handled Measure L?
"I would say that if you're using a grading system … we're probably sitting at a D at best," he said. Simas said the "astronomical" cost overruns at the Mountain House project will affect every other project, forcing Delta to significantly cut from other campuses.
Place on the board: Simas has opposed the Mountain House project. He has been the most outspoken member of the board. He publicly campaigned against Maria Serna during last fall's election, appearing in advertisements with Serna's opponent, Karen Munro.

Anthony Bugarin
Occupation: 5th grade teacher at Lathrop Elementary School
Education: Earned an associates degree from Delta in 1974; bachelors degree and teachers credential from University of Pacific in 1976; masters degree in education in 1982.
Years on board: 15
Represents: South Stockton
How would you grade Delta's handling of Measure L?
"We could have done the work much, much better. Probably a C-."
Place on the board: Bugarin initially opposed Delta building a campus at the Mountain House site. But in the interest of moving the bond projects forward, he said, he's switched his votes and, over the past year and a half, consistently supported the site. He added that he's an "eternal optimist" and believes the bond projects will have a positive benefit for the community.
Janet Rivera
Occupation: Retired, formerly a program manager for the San Joaquin County Office of Education.
Education: Obtained an associates degree from Delta in 1973; bachelor of arts degree and a preliminary administrative credential from the University of Pacific in 1977; a lifetime administrative credential at California State University, Stanislaus in 1981.
Years on board: 12
Represents: North Stockton
How has Delta handled Measure L?
"I would rank it down to a C," Rivera said. "In the last four months it's been touch and go." Rivera said trustees can't endlessly delay decisions on projects, especially at the future Mountain House campus where construction costs have skyrocketed. "Our job is to question things. But we do know that costs are rising in construction," she said. "We do need to keep that in mind each time we decide to delay things."
Place on the board: Rivera has consistently voted with the majority on the board in favor of the Mountain House campus.
Greg Mccreary
Occupation: Retired, former educator. He also owns an insurance company.
Education: Obtained a bachelors of science degree in mathematics from the University of North Dakota in 1963.
Years on board: 10
Represents: Tracy
How has Delta handled Measure L?
"We should have been building (a Tracy campus) years ago," McCreary said. He added developers working with the college are to blame for much of the delay at Mountain House. He noted that developer Gary Kamilos, who is working with the college on the Mountain House site, has been slow to submit needed documents for the project.
Place on the board: McCreary and Trustee Simas have maintained that building at Mountain House is a big mistake, noting the college should have taken the free land offered by the city of Tracy.
Raul Rodriguez
Education: Rodriguez obtained a Ph.D. in Psychology in 1987 from University of California, Santa Cruz; a master of arts in school and applied psychology in 1982 from Fairfield University, Fairfield, Connecticut; and a bachelor of arts in liberal studies from Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio in 1977. Rodriguez joined Delta College in August 2002. He has asserted that Delta will not go beyond the projected $95 million cost at Mountain House, and that Delta will not abandon the Lodi and Manteca projects.
Andy Dunn
Vice President for Business Services
Education: Obtained a bachelors of architecture degree from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1983; a masters degree in public administration from California State University, San Bernardino in 1993. Dunn joined Delta in the fall of 2002.
How has Delta handled Measure L?
"I think the projects have been managed well," Dunn said. "There is a certain frustration because it's not moving as quickly as we'd like." He said Delta's progress could be called "horribly slow" if compared to the private sector. But he noted public projects are subject to many more clearances. Dunn, in large part, was hired to administer what would become Measure L. He has been the college's expert on the bond projects.

David Rodriguez
Delta College consultant/real estate broker
Education: Earned an MBA in real estate finance and urban land economics from the University of Southern California; and a bachelor of science in architecture, from New York Institute of Technology. He has worked as a consultant for Delta College since January 2005. He specializes in acquiring real estate for community colleges. He works as a principal at Public Private Ventures in Pasadena. Rodriguez, of no relation to Raul Rodriguez, could not be reached for comment this week.


Delta plans more than $164 million worth of upgrades and expansion projects at its main campus.

1. Baseball field upgrades
Project: Artificial turf to be added along with new dugouts and fences.
Funds earmarked: $2.9 million.
Status: Construction work underway.
Next step: Project expected to be finished by May.

2. New soccer field
Project: Plans call for building a new field just south of the football field.
Funds earmarked: $1.9 million.
Status: Plans still being developed.

3. Goleman Library modernization
Project: $21 million in upgrades.
Status: Still in the early design stages.
Next step: Trustees will likely review designs later this spring.

4. Cunningham Math and Science building
Project: The three-story building would include 24 new science labs and be constructed just north of the existing Cunningham Center.
Funds earmarked: $61 million ($30 million of that is a pledge by the state).
Status: A high priority for Delta.
Next step: N/A.

5. Gateway Student Services center
Project: Planned as a "one-stop-shop" for students with offices that range from admissions to veteran's benefits services.
Funds earmarked: $27.5 million.
Status: Delta expects to break ground on the project this year.
Next step: A completed center by 2009.

Project: Temporary "modular village" planned on 114 acres along Victor Road, just east of Lodi.
Funds earmarked: $15.6 million for the purchase of the acreage and to build roads, sewer and water connections. (Delta trustees will vote May 1 to add $6.5 million in new funds for future construction at Lodi site).
Status: Trustees and administrators say the Lodi campus is a high priority. The college has entered into a two-year purchase agreement and already spent $300,000 toward the purchase. Delta expects to complete the purchase by December 2008.
Next step: If the additional $6.5 million is approved, the college expects to open a modular village of classrooms by 2010.

Project: Establish a satellite campus site in Galt.
Funds earmarked: $2.18 million for the purchase of a 140 acre site off Liberty Road, west of Highway 99.
Status: The college has entered a two-year purchase agreement. But no money has been set aside for building classrooms, roads or utilities at the campus site.
Next step: The college hopes to complete the purchase of the site by December 2008.

Valley Springs
Project: Establish a satellite campus in the foothills.
Funds earmarked: Originally $1.6 million to study and purchase a 40-acre site in Valley Springs.
Status: Delta trustees are expected to decide May 1 whether to drop plans for the purchase of the site, due largely to cost overruns on other projects.
Background: The campus is the lowest priority among trustees, though Trustee Dan Parises has urged the board to keep its purchase option for the land.

Mountain House
Project: Temporary and then permanent campus on 100-acres about four miles northwest of Tracy.
Funds earmarked: $95 million, up from an estimated $62 million in 2003.
Status: The campus is one of Delta's top priorities but also the most criticized project because of cost overruns and questions from Trustees Ted Simas and Greg McCreary. Both maintain that building the campus on a free site in Tracy is the best way to go.
Next step: Delta hopes to begin site work at Mountain House this fall and offer classes in a set of modular buildings and labs by spring 2008.

The city of Tracy offered Delta College a free piece of land east of Chrisman Road to serve the Tracy/Mountain House communities. The college turned the offer down, citing concerns about its proximity to ammonium-filled rail cars and commitments already made at the Mountain House site. Since then, trustees Ted Simas and Greg McCreary have argued the college made a huge mistake in not taking the free land.

Project: To upgrade and expand the Manteca Farm, located off Highway 99 at Brunswick Road. A new classroom along with agricultural buildings would be added. The college has also proposed to move its viticulture program to the Manteca campus.
Funds earmarked: $100,000 to study the project
Status: Delta trustees will vote May 1 to add $10 million to the project, just weeks after it appeared it could be put on hold.
Next step: May 1 vote.

Founded: 1932
Location: 5151 Pacific Ave., Stockton
Students: 19,000
Full time faculty: 220
Budget for 2006-2007 fiscal year: $90 million
Tuition: State residents, $11 per unit, nonresident, $150 per unit plus $11 enrollment fee.
Academic programs: Applied Science and Technology; Business; Communication Skills; Family, Consumer and Health Sciences; Fine Arts; Social Science; Science and Mathematics.
Off campus courses: Classes are available in Galt, Jackson, Linden, Lodi, Manteca, Rio Vista, San Andreas, Sutter Creek and Tracy.

Source: http://www.deltacollege.edu.

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1 comment:

  • posted at 1:43 pm on Sun, Apr 29, 2007.


    I will vote for no new bonds. I will vote for no new taxes for businesses as long as these people are in office.



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