The board of trustees was unable to make a final decision regarding CIP recommendations.
By Zachary-Taylor Wright
The presidents of St. Philip’s and Palo Alto colleges made their cases Tuesday to Alamo Colleges trustees for the allocation of funds in a proposed bond issue.
The board of trustees meeting as a committee of the whole in Killen made no recommendations and deferred possible
action on the capital improvement program to the regular board meeting at 6 p.m. Dec. 13 in Killen Center.
St. Philip’s College President Adena Loston suggested the board of trustees maintain $28 million proposed in a June 29 outline of potential capital improvement projects for a new autobody, welding and truck driving facility.
Loston said the college has five years to maintain exemplary status for premiere programs, such as their culinary arts program, and warned that maintaining exemplary status is much easier than getting it back after losing it.
Loston shared a story depicting the run-down culinary arts facility in need of restoration. The program is currently housed in the campus center of the main campus.
In a report presented to the board by John W. Strybos, associate vice chancellor of facilities operation and construction management, the Capital Improvement Program Citizen Committee recommended the construction of a new separate culinary arts building for $28 million.
“They suffered an utter embarrassment Saturday when they invited chefs from all over to put on a premiere program to introduce high school students to cooking, baking and pastry, and they were invited to use our kitchens,” Loston said. “In that experience, they were dealing with tile and water falling into their food product. We can go fix the roof, but we will never erase that image that they take away to other states.”
Loston said it took 17 years to achieve exemplary status for the culinary arts program through the American Culinary Federation.
She said the Bowden building at St. Philip’s used as the early college high school building on their campus, has mold and cracks in the walls.
The Capital Improvement Program Citizen Committee has recommended $10 million go toward construction of a new Bowden Building and campus center in 2017.
She also described the unworkable conditions found in the welding facility at Southwest Campus where there have been two fires, and sparks shoot around the room. She said students are forced to weld in close quarters, which is not a safe environment.
Loston described the conditions witnessed by the citizens bond committee as they toured the college prior to making their recommendations.
“Even taking the tour, people were dodging sparks that were flying across the floor. It’s an experience you don’t want to have. Students with torches in closed, cramped areas — really close — is not an environment that we should be put in.”
Loston said the board should ensure standing programs and facilities are functioning properly before constructing new facilities.
“I know we have to deal with growth, but we also have to deal with adequacy. Just making it adequate to offer programs, and that’s the essence of it. … Is it all about growth, or is it about adequacy as well?”
District 2 trustee Denver McClendon questioned if the $450 million capital improvement program budget could be increased.
Diane Snyder, vice chancellor of finance and administration, said the funds were tightly targeted. She said this number could not be increased without increasing the tax rates, and she doe not foresee any interest income being available to the board.
Snyder said in an interview Thursday that the funds are sourced from property tax revenue. She said the $450 million budget for the Capital Improvement Program is obtainable without increasing property tax rates.
Strybos said the bond advisory committee recommended $14 million be allocated to renovating the natatorium and gym at Palo Alto College.
Strybos said the district owns 51 percent and the city of San Antonio owns 49 percent of the natatorium, but McClendon expressed concern with the amount of funds the city will provide to renovate the natatorium.
The city is proposing $5 million to renovate the natatorium, but McClendon questioned why that would represent a 49 percent share in the cost compared to the committee’s recommendation of $14 million.
Renovating the aquatic and athletic center that houses the natatorium and gym will cost $20 million. Of that, $14 million will come from bond funds and the rest from the city, Strybos explained.
Therefore, the $5 million is there to cover the city’s ownership and responsibility for the natatorium alone and adequately does so, Strybos said.
Palo Alto President Mike Flores said the college is requesting two labs in addition to the proposed remodeling of existing labs.