Letters to the Editor

Cuesta College initiative would help entire county

Recent Viewpoint comments by Dan Carpenter, Fred Hoey and Marilyn Rossa have made inaccurate allegations that confuse voters about the benefits of Measure L, the bond measure that will strengthen Cuesta College.

As members of the leadership of Cuesta College, it’s truly disheartening to us that these three individuals — who represent no constituency other than their own personal opinions — are willfully ignoring the needs of current and future Cuesta students, as well as the needs that local employers have for a well-trained workforce.

Worse, they don’t offer any solution to the real challenges that Cuesta and its students face, except to say that now is not the time to help Cuesta.

We couldn’t disagree more.

As examples of their misguided logic:

Mr. Carpenter claims that too many Cuesta students come from outside San Luis Obispo County. In fact, 86 percent of Cuesta students are SLO County residents. But regardless of where Cuesta students went to high school, state law requires Cuesta to be an open-access institution. The college provides affordable education and job training for all, including local veterans and many of our 911 emergency responders and nurses.

Mr. Hoey claims that Cuesta’s trustees failed to see that campus facilities were aging and long ago should have budgeted for these upgrades. To the contrary, the Board of Trustees has been very involved in the planning and implementation of upgrades and repairs to facilities, which are assessed on a three-year cycle. However, due to diminished state funding, Cuesta now needs to join the 65 other community college districts across the state that have passed local bond measures over the past decade.

Mr. Hoey also asserts that the proposed expansion of Cuesta’s North County campus is of questionable value. Wrong. North County residents have taken full advantage of our existing North County facility, which was built precisely because North County demand was so strong.

Ms. Rossa argues that Cuesta cannot be trusted because of past struggles with meeting accreditation standards. Not only did Cuesta continuously maintain its accreditation during that period of time, it has now become the model college that is being emulated by colleges across the state for its planning and decision-making processes. In fact, Cuesta now meets or exceeds all accrediting standards. This is due in large part to the wonderfully collaborative effort put forth by the entire Cuesta community — faculty, staff, administration and students. Cuesta’s leadership is now stronger than ever.

The question voters should ask is what will Measure L cost, and what will taxpayers get for their money?

The investment cost: The Cuesta bond measure will cost $19.45 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The typical homeowner in the county would pay less than $100 annually.

The benefits: Cuesta’s bond will cover a technology upgrade; repair deteriorating buildings more than 40 years old; replace 18 portable classrooms the state says are out of compliance; and fund a new trades and technology building for the North County campus.

In making these renovations, including the installation of energy-efficient lighting and low-flow plumbing fixtures, Cuesta will attain significant energy and water savings, thus freeing funds to directly support educational programs and services.

As The Tribune Editorial Board noted in its thoughtful support of Measure L, the bond won’t turn Cuesta into a Taj Mahal, it will simply bring our facilities into the 21st century.

The students who attend Cuesta deserve access to an affordable educational experience that closely resembles today’s workplaces. Measure L is critical to creating that proper learning and job training environment. Please join us in voting yes on Measure L.