Fix the old before the new

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Renovating Scobee Planetarium and building the Challenger Center has cost nearly $5 million. For the exposure and status it will accord this college and the fact that fundraising is paying the bills, it’s not a bad investment.

Meanwhile, the roof of Chance Academic Center is under repair, but ceiling tiles fall in the middle of the night and construction dust is aggravating asthma sufferers.

Perhaps the college and district could focus on repairing older buildings that are worn.

Buildings like Gonzales and McCreless halls top the list with a history of mold and air quality issues occupants say remain unresolved.

Equipment failures — plumbing, thermostats, elevators — and under par performance — IT, clocks, lights — could use attention.

And it’s not just repairs; the whole campus, inside and out, could use a thorough scrubbing.

Housekeeping employees are not to blame.

They are already stretched unreasonably beyond their abilities. Each position vacated through retirement or other reasons is lost so no relief is in sight.

At the same time, complaints continue about the poor performance of employees contracted to maintain a portion of campus buildings.

Maintenance employees are not to blame. Their ranks are not growing either.

To get inside that shiny new Challenger Center for Space Science Education, the public has to walk through at least a portion of the campus.

Calls for revised funding priorities are met with the explanation that bond money can’t be spent on operations. Legal limits on spending taxpayer funds with an interest meter running is an important public safeguard.

The revisions need to be in priorities for the operations budget. Some programs, offices and departments seem to have all they need or more, while genuine student services wither away.

This district has the money; it just needs to decide to spend it on our primary mission.


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