Campus improvements funded with general obligation bonds approved by voters in the Foothill-De Anza Community College District represent “money well spent,” said the chairman of the Measure C Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee as he presented the watchdog committee’s annual report to the community.
Oversight Committee Chairman Dudley G. Andersen reported to the college district’s Board of Trustees that bond funds spent in 2010-11 were expended in accordance with state constitutional provisions and Measure C ballot language that voters approved in 2006. The annual report covers uses of the bond funds as well as progress made under Measure C.
“Presentation of the annual report is a wonderful opportunity for the district to express our deep appreciation to local taxpayers for investing in the future of our community and students,” said board President Joan Barram. “Measure C has made it possible for the district to prolong the life of Foothill’s and De Anza’s original buildings with renovations and repairs, and to replace aging facilities with new buildings, classrooms and labs that are built to high energy-efficiency standards and equipped with modern technology.”
The 2010-11 Annual Report can be found on the Measure C home page at http://www.measurec.fhda.edu. District residents may obtain a printed copy by making arrangements through the Chancellor’s Office at (650) 949-6100.
Chancellor Linda Thor expressed appreciation to Andersen and the other volunteer committee members, noting that their comments and questions have only strengthened the district’s bond program.
Despite difficult financial times, the district cannot lawfully use bond funds to pay for operating expenses such as offering additional classes or hiring more counselors and tutors, the chancellor said. Measure C funds are reserved exclusively for use on capital projects that voters approved in 2006 to modernize the colleges, improve safety and update critical infrastructure systems and equipment. Since state funding is insufficient to meet those capital needs, Measure C is an important investment by the community in the future of Foothill and De Anza colleges.
Although use of bond money is restricted, there are indirect benefits from the bond program to the district’s operating budget. The district’s track record in constructing energy-efficient buildings and investing in other energy-management projects indirectly frees up dollars for the classroom by reducing operating costs. For example, solar energy-producing parking canopies installed on college parking lots are expected to save the district about $7 million in costs over 10 years.
The committee’s 2010-11 Annual Report highlights such bond-funded improvements as:
• Installing photovoltaic arrays at both campuses to produce solar energy
• Replacing outdated technology and instructional equipment
• Improving utility and technology infrastructure to make it more efficient
• Renovating existing classrooms and laboratories
• Constructing updated buildings such as the Mediated Learning Center at De Anza and the Physical Sciences and Engineering Center at Foothill, slated to open later this year.
After studying plans, reviewing expenditures and touring construction projects since joining the committee in 2010, Andersen told the board on Feb. 6 that what he’s seen is impressive. “It’s money well spent,” he said. The bond program has resulted in “significant technical upgrades to facilities along with upgrades to infrastructure that bode well for the community and the district’s future.”
Andersen complimented the district on its financial practices, noting that the annual financial and performance audits of the Measure C bond program disclosed no instances of non-compliance. He thanked Charles Allen, the district’s executive director of facilities, operations and construction management, along with the district bond team and support staff, for professionalism in working with the committee.
Key responsibilities of the seven-member Citizens’ Bond Oversight Committee are to monitor whether proceeds from the $490.8 million bond measure are spent as promised to voters and to inform the public about how bond funds are being used. Volunteer committee members represent the interests of taxpayers, businesses, senior citizens, students, the district’s charitable foundation and district residents at large.
As committee chairman, Andersen brings more than 35 years experience in strategic and financial management as a financial advisor, corporate executive and business founder. He has worked in both the public and private sectors.
Other members of the committee are David Bergman, a licensed real estate broker and former construction company founder, representing business interests; William A. Dietz, a longtime high-tech executive and consultant, representing senior citizens’ interests; Anita Manwani Bhagat, an entrepreneur who has managed software businesses, representing the Foothill-De Anza Foundation; Etienne Bowie, a student at Foothill College, representing students; Robert K. Lancefield, a practicing lawyer for many years who is active in real estate property management, representing taxpayers; and Susan Silver, an educational administrator and university instructor, an at-large member. Andersen also is a member at large.
Posted Feb. 14, 2012