With the Gavilan College bond measure ahead with 57.9 percent approval and more than half of ballots counted — while needing 55 percent approval — Superintendent Kathleen Rose said she was grateful to the many volunteers who campaigned and excited to move forward with projects.
“We are so thankful and grateful to the community for those who supported the measure,” Rose said.
If officially approved, the measure would raise $248 million for facilities expansion, including a satellite campus at Fairview Corners in San Benito County. It’s the largest bond measure in the community college’s nearly 100-year history.
Rose said the measure would allow the college to implement crucial facilities and educational master plans with “brick and mortar” while modernizing infrastructure for the next several decades.
“We’re really excited about the possibilities,” she told San Benito Live on Thursday, a day before a crucial release of the latest vote counts in Santa Clara and San Benito counties.
Rose wants to aggressively move ahead on plans with the funds once the vote is certified and the bonds are sold.
As for the relatively close vote, Rose said supporters are confident it will end up on their side.
“Because the trend has been so strong, we feel confident that the bond is good to go,” she said. “We feel that we can move forward in the next stage of our planning process.”
The measure had 57.9 percent approval as of Friday morning. The Santa Clara County elections office planned to do its next big release of tallies this morning, and the San Benito County Elections Office plans to release more numbers later today. More than 45 percent of ballots have to be counted in San Benito, and about 43 percent of ballots remain unprocessed in Santa Clara County.
She said supporters have been celebrating and called that the “fun part” of the experience.
“We don’t have a lot of time to do that because we need to get started on the next planning aspects of the bond,” she said.
Rose addressed San Benito County in particular in light of some skeptics here who were unhappy that the college didn’t use bond funds from the $108 million Measure E passed in 2004 on a satellite campus as intended.
“For folks who felt negatively, we will definitely move forward and continue to be as transparent and communicative as we’ve been over the past three years,” said Rose, who succeeded former Superintendent Steve Kinsella two and a half years ago in the role.
She said San Benito County support is actually slightly higher so far with Measure X than it was with E.
“To me that’s a little bit of a confidence boost that our message overall is clear and our trust level has increased,” she said.
She wants to progress rapidly on the design process, but underscored that the college is working with “bare land.” She said a habitat and wildlife mitigation process has taken 10 years.
“Now once we get our bonds sold and get that process in place, it’s back to the drawing board with the architect,” she said. “We will start to look at how quickly we can get the EIR (environmental impact report) done.”
She wants to see building activity in the next two years.
“But the design process should be able to start rapidly,” she said.