A $65,000 check from the Associated Students of Gavilan College, key endorsements from local and regional community leaders and a well-attended kickoff party have gotten the “Yes For Gavilan College, Yes on Measure X” campaign off to an energetic and optimistic start.

The local community college, which serves south Santa Clara and San Benito counties with a main Gilroy campus and satellite campuses in both Morgan Hill and Hollister, is asking its Gavilan College Joint District voters to approve a $248 million bond in the Nov. 6 election.

Measure X, as it is tagged on the ballot, is just the third bond measure developed over the 100-year history of Gavilan College, which used an initial bond in 1965 to build the Gilroy campus and a 2004 Measure E bond of $108 million to upgrade the main campus as well as purchase land for future expansion of Hollister site, plus the creation of the Coyote Valley Center on a 55-acre plot on Bailey Avenue in south San Jose.

“Our fundraising efforts have been going on about four weeks now and we are doing great,” said Esmeralda Montenegro, who heads up the development, events and fundraising for the “Yes For Gavilan College, Yes on Measure X” committee. “We’ve received great support from the Associated Students of Gavilan College. Our goal is to raise a little more than $200,000 and we are on our way.”

Along with the $65,000 check from the ASGC, Montenegro said they have already reached 68 percent of that campaign funding goal (more than $100,000) with other donations coming via industry and individual partners “and more coming along every week.”

Montenegro, a Gilroy resident and former Gavilan College instructor, is one of 13 committee members who meet every other week and remain in constant contact as new opportunities present themselves to help support Measure X.

“I really value education and Gavilan College is our local college and it needs a lot of TLC,” said Montenegro, who helped another bond measure get approval at another community college. “I gained some experience that way. I’m happy to be able to assist with Measure X and use all that I learned two years ago from that campaign.”

According to the committee, Measure X funds will:

• Repair or replace leaky roofs, old rusty plumbing, and faulty electrical systems  where needed;

• Upgrade and add classrooms, labs and career training facilities for science, math, engineering, and technology;

• Upgrade and add classrooms and labs to help local students complete the first two years of college affordably, and transfer to the Cal-State or UC systems;

• Expand the Veterans’ Center to provide job training, job placement, counseling and support services to military veterans and their families;

• Improve access for students with disabilities;

• Improve student safety and campus security systems including security lighting, security cameras, emergency communications systems, smoke detectors, fire alarms and sprinklers;

• Add a campus in San Benito County, and labs and classrooms at the Coyote Valley Center, to offer a much larger selection of classes, certificated programs and degrees;

• Renovate the aging College library to meet modern standards for technology and research.

“The impact will be huge,” said Montenegro of the potential $248 million bond measure. “(Gavilan) needs a lot of facility improvements. …In Hollister, it would mean a brand new campus that would allow students to stay near their homes and avoid the drive (to Gilroy). It would just make it a lot easier for those students.”

Elizabeth Williams, a full-time student at Gavilan and an employee at the Welcome Center at the Gilroy campus, supports Measure X because it will make the the college “more accessible for everyone.”

“Gavilan College has been a huge foundation for me (in) understanding the skills I need to be successful and for me to be able to continue on to a UC,” said the 21-year-old Morgan Hill resident who commutes daily to the Gilroy campus. “We have so many great students at Gavilan College and so many people who need that foundation and Gavilan provides that foundation.”

Williams, who works with students to help set their class schedules, said certain students are limited in what classes they can take based on the class location and time.

“It’s a huge burden because the traffic coming from Hollister is intense,”added Williams, who plans to go from Gavilan to a four-year school and major in psychology. “They can’t register for certain classes (because they can’t get to them.)”

A bond measure must pass a 55 percent threshold for approval. In 2004, Measure E won by a slim margin, earning 56.75 percent (11,217 votes) of the vote. During that election, voter approval of the measure hovered below the required 55 percent for much of the evening before receiving 56.1 percent of the vote in Santa Clara County and 55.9 percent in San Benito County, according to our 2004 news reports.

The Gavilan Board of Trustees decided to move forward with Measure X after hearing encouraging results from two surveys conducted by a polling firm. Then, at a July 10 meeting, the trustees unanimously approved putting the new bond measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Measure X has already garnered a slew of endorsements, including Santa Clara County District 1 Supervisor Mike Wasserman; San Benito County Chamber of Commerce CEO Candace Ledesma; Gilroy Mayor Roland Velasco; Morgan Hill Mayor Steve Tate; and Morgan HIll Chamber of Commerce President John Horner.


Gavilan Joint Community College District School Bond

55 percent required to approve

“Gavilan College Affordable Education/Job Training/College Transfer/Veterans Support Measure”

To upgrade classrooms, science, healthcare, technology, engineering/career training labs, repair aging facilities, shall Gavilan Joint Community College District’s measure authorizing $248 million in bonds at legal rates, levying 2 cents/$100 assessed value, $14 million annually while bonds are outstanding, constructing, acquiring, repairing classrooms, facilities, sites/equipment, Veterans Center, adding a campus in San Benito County, improving local access to affordable education, with citizen oversight, all money locally controlled

MEASURE E (2004)

$108 million bond

Approved November 2004

56.75 percent voted in favor

Completed Measure E-funded Projects: Tennis court repairs; Boiler replacement; Infrastructure replacement; Computer replacement; Enterprise Resource System; Interim housing; Parking lot expansion/resurfacing; Renovations of Mathematics, Physical Science, Life Sciences, Art, Music, Humanities, Security and Facilities, and Multipurpose buildings; Land purchase-Coyote Valley; Land purchase-San Benito County; Cosmetology/Business Renovation; Roof repair for gymnasium and science buildings; Campus and building signage; Social Science building; Gilroy Campus modernization project; San Martin airport instructional facility for aviation; Coyote Valley Phase I; Student Center retrofit; San Martin Aviation facility; Swimming pool and gymnasium renovation; Habitat mitigation, Coyote Valley and San Benito County; Athletics fields

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