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HB Independent

College bond measure nears voter approval

By Britney Barnes

4:49 PM PST, November 7, 2012

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The Coast Community College District initially appears to have won a $698-million bond measure for facilities rehabilitation and construction, but opponents weren't ready Friday to concede with votes still uncounted.

The college district's Measure M gained 55.9% of voter's approval with all precincts counted Wednesday evening, according to the Orange County Registrar of Voters.

At a Measure M party election night, the atmosphere was one of relief that the measure would pass, said district board President Jim Moreno.

"It's thanks to the electorate for investing in the education of our community colleges," he said Wednesday.

Opponent Matthew Harper, a Huntington Beach city councilman, is still waiting for the provisional and vote-by-mail ballots to be counted, which could take several days.

Harper took exception with the district asking for more money after voters already approved, and are still paying for, a $370-million bond measure in 2002.

"It doesn't look like it's clear what the voters have decided," he said Wednesday.

With a more than 20,000-vote lead, it appears the district will have funds for a variety of uses, including improving access for people with disabilities; install and repair safety and security equipment; fix leaking roofs and decaying walls; remove asbestos; construct classrooms, laboratories and job training facilities; and improve educational resources for active military and veterans.

The district has a 2020 Vision Master Plan for its three community colleges — Orange Coast, Golden West and Coastline — but the board will move forward by carefully evaluating the colleges needs, especially how to handle the expected increase in students, Moreno said.

Community colleges are expected to see an influx of veterans and students who would have normally attended the University of California or the California State University.

Measure M promises none of the money can be used for teacher or administrator salaries and pensions, or go to Sacramento. A citizens oversight committee, with representatives from a taxpayers association, and business and senior citizens organizations, will be put in place to oversee spending.

— Britney Barnes

Twitter: @britneyjbarnes