Editorial: Skyline misses opportunities

Recently, Skyline has become the recipient of $100 million for modernizing building 1.

The money comes from the passage of Measure H that appropriated $388 million of property taxes for the use of our district in construction. The district plans for a portion of the funds to demolish and rebuild building 1 at Skyline.

The last bond measure to fund schooling at a community college level was in 2006. Since then, our college and others have depended on the state budget to fund programs. This has left our campus at the whim of an overarching, statewide budget that might not take into account the needs of our community.

There’s no question that building 1 needs renovation; the current construction is necessary and ultimately beneficial. However, the bond measures approved for community colleges since 2006, all of which have been for facilities, have amounted to $41.1 billion according to the 2015-2016 Legislative Analyst’s Office (LAO) report. Statewide, this money could have contributed to education and teacher salaries.

The option to use these bonds for education is there and, for almost a decade, not one school district has taken advantage of it. There is an untapped resource here that we need to be aware of. It’s helpful to have modern and innovative buildings, but without teachers to occupy the classroom, there’s little value in it.

Recently, Gov. Jerry Brown created an innovation program to award schools that show success in graduation. There are 52 schools statewide who are applying for recognition and funds, and Skyline is not among them.

Skyline President Regina Stanback Stroud said in an email that she’s aware of the governor’s program, but the school does not plan to participate.

If Skyline fails to seek opportunities to fund our campus in ways that would benefit our students, and that could enrich their lives, our school is selling us short. We need our learning communities and resources because that’s what makes Skyline the inventive school it is.

In 2010 Measure G, a $34 parcel tax, was passed, and for the past four years has been supplementing the district’s operation funds. Soon this money will stop coming in, but Barbara Christensen, director of community/government relations for the district, believes that the rise in property taxes and student fees will keep the budget afloat.

Measure G is the main component in financing the President’s Innovation Fund at Skyline, which supported events like last year’s first annual Skyline Dance Festival and last month’s Chinese New Year celebration.

There should be a focus on operation funding at Skyline. It doesn’t seem to be the priority to find and procure these funds for our school’s programs. There is a drop off in these funds as Measure G goes into extinction, and there’s no set plan to find the resources elsewhere. We need our school to use all opportunities and avenues available to support us.