Cuesta College is laying out a foundation for education in North County

Tribune photo by Joe Johnston

Community leaders are calling the construction of the second permanent building at Cuesta College’s North County campus a milestone for the school and community.

The Dale J. Schwartz Learning Resource Center will feature a library, gallery, lecture hall, classrooms, and program and faculty offices in roughly 42,500 square feet on Paso Robles’ east side.

The two-story building is named after a longtime Paso Robles resident and contributor to the college. Construction is expected to be completed by the end of September 2011.

At the building’s May groundbreaking, Shandon Joint Unified School District Superintendent Rodney Wallace said that expanding the facilities at the North County campus would provide the opportunity for more students to attend college.

“The majority of our students cannot afford the extremely high cost of going to a four-year college or university right out of high school,” Wallace said. “Currently, many are deterred from even attending Cuesta College’s main campus (just outside San Luis Obispo) due to the transportation costs.”

The satellite campus opened in fall 1998 with about 1,300 students in three modular buildings on 105 acres just north of Highway 46 East.

About 3,500 students were enrolled this spring, officials said. That enrollment is expected to grow to at least 5,000 by 2015.

Additions have included the Fox Family Building in summer 2005, which houses health, math and science classes. The campus also now has six modular buildings. The learning center is being built adjacent to the Fox building.

College administrators had planned to build the Learning Resource Center in time to open for the 2007-08 school year, but even though the college received state approval to build, the construction costs were too high at the time.

The $12 million building is funded through state bond money channeled through the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office.

Its design includes a stucco exterior, steel frame construction, clock tower and solar panels on the roof. The architecture features an open design with floor-to-second-story ceiling areas and natural lighting.Work on its foundation is under way.

A glance at the Dale J. Schwartz learning resource center

Here’s a look at the features of Cuesta’s second permanent North County campus building:

Six multidisciplinary classrooms

20 faculty offices

A library services area with book stacks, study areas, an open computer lab and a classroom area

A 260-seat lecture hall

A disabled student program and services office

A tutoring center

A writing and math lab

A computer services office

A professional development center