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Facilities: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Measure R?

Measure R was a November 2004 ballot measure placed before voters in the 1,945-square-mile Antelope Valley Community College District seeking approval to sell $139 million in bonds to fund construction projects for the district. Voters approved the measure overwhelmingly, enabling the district to qualify for millions more in state funding to construct labs and classrooms to meet the district’s rapid growth.

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The state has paid for buildings at AVC in the past. Why do we need Measure R?

AVC was successful in securing millions of dollars from the state during the 1980s and 1990s to construct many new buildings including a Library, Applied Arts Building, Business Education Building, Technical Education Building, Child Development Center and Administration Building. However, with increasing demand statewide for new college buildings, the state developed a new funding formula for college buildings that gave higher priority to projects that had local matching funds. Thus, community college districts throughout California sought approval for local bond measures to meet their building needs and qualify for state construction money.

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How much does Measure R cost local taxpayers?

The cost to the owner of a home with an assessed valuation of $250,000 is approximately $4 per month, or $19.50 annually per $100,000 of assessed valuation. In exchange, the district is able to provide expanded programs and services to provide students with job skills.

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What projects will be funded through Measure R?

The Measure R ballot language contained an extensive list of projects that could be paid for through bond money – virtually every need identified in the district’s comprehensive Facilities Master Plan. The list included a myriad of projects at the Lancaster campus as well as development of a second campus at Palmdale.

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How can the public be assured the money is being spent for its intended purposes?

By law, the district was required to establish a seven-member Citizens’ Oversight Committee to evaluate spending and oversee annual audits of Measure R funds. The district took the added step of expanding committee membership to 18 people representing various constituent groups in the community. None of the members are college employees.

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How are building priorities determined?

Many factors determine construction priorities. The process starts with the district’s Educational Master Plan, which attempts to link needs of the community and students with the appropriate educational programs. That, in turn, drives creation of the Facilities Master Plan. From there, the college follows state processes for determining space utilization and other factors that justify building requests. Projects are placed on a district-wide annual list that is submitted to the state. The state then applies its own criteria to projects to determine what projects qualify for state money. State money comes from the passage of statewide bond measures.

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What projects have been funded through Measure R?

The first project funded through Measure R was a technology infrastructure upgrade, followed by new parking lots to accommodate a student population that exceeded 15,000 in fall 2008. Some projects are contingent on others, which helps determines priorities. For instance, expansion of parking on the west side of the Lancaster campus displaced physical education fields, which had to be restored. At the same time, fire officials would not allow any more buildings on campus until we resolved an issue with poor water pressure for firefighting. A massive 107,000-square-foot Health and Science Building to relieve overcrowding in our science labs and expand our training of registered nurses and other health care providers could not be built until the relocation of an agriculture/landscaping facility and warehouse/maintenance building occurred. New maintenance/warehouse buildings and the new agriculture/landscaping complex are due to open in 2009. Work on a West Campus Expansion is due to be completed in 2009 along with the new campus for the Students on the Academic Rise (SOAR) High School – an early college program hosted by AVC. Ground will be broken for a new theater complex in 2009, with construction of the Health and Science Building set to start in 2010.

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How much impact will Measure R have in accommodating growth and overcrowding?

AVC anticipates that when all Measure R funds have been spent students will have an additional 163 labs contained in 127,436 square feet of space, 40 lecture rooms, and 360 office and support spaces. That is enough to serve an additional 9,035 full-time equivalent students (FTES).

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When did AVC begin work to establish a Palmdale campus?

College officials started looking for land for a Palmdale campus in 1988. The college district received an offer in 1993 for donation of land near 47th Street East south of Barrel Springs Road as part of a large housing development. The land donation was contingent on several factors, which the college and others worked to resolve over the years. AVC officials believed the land donation was imminent at the time Measure R was approved by voters in 2004. Thus, officials believed they could utilize $16 million from Measure R to acquire another $36 million in state matching money for development of a first phase of the campus. Unfortunately, the land deal fell apart, forcing the college to seek new land, which it acquired in 2008 at 25th street East north of Barrel Springs Road. In the meantime, the district continues to provide classes for students in Palmdale at a leased facility on East Palmdale Boulevard.

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College officials anticipated using $16 million in Measure R funds for a Palmdale campus. Where is that money?

Officials in 2004 projected that $16 million of Measure R money would be devoted to development of the Palmdale campus. Continued delays over obtaining donated land pushed the timeline back. $5 million was committed in 2007 to purchase of 60 acres for a Palmdale campus. The remaining $11 million was needed to cover significant cost increases for a Health and Science Building in Lancaster, which will ultimately provide more registered nurses and health care professionals to serve the entire community, including Palmdale’s new hospital. The new building will also serve engineering students to assist with local efforts to provide “home grown” engineers to serve the area aerospace industry.

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What is the status of the Palmdale campus?

After working more than a decade to secure donated land for a Palmdale campus, the district in 2008 purchased a 60-acre parcel on 25th Street East using $5 million in Measure R money. In the meantime, the district continues to serve approximately 2,000 south valley residents at a leased facility at 1529 E. Palmdale Blvd., Palmdale. The district must reach Educational Center status (by having a sustained enrollment of 500 full-time equivalent students (FTES) per semester) first before it can get state support for a permanent campus. It is expected to take several more years before the district can establish a permanent campus.

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Is there Measure R money for a Palmdale campus?

Skyrocketing construction costs – including the prices for steel, concrete and oil – have caused the district to spend Measure R funds more quickly than anticipated. This is not a phenomenon limited to AVC. It is a reality faced by cities, colleges and schools throughout the state as well as the nation. There are not sufficient Measure R funds left to provide for infrastructure and a first phase of a Palmdale campus. Many projects planned through Measure R -- $56 million worth -- for the Lancaster campus are unfunded as well.

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I voted for Measure R anticipating a Palmdale campus would be built. Why didn’t you build the campus right after passage of Measure R?

At the time Measure R passed, the district believed the long-awaited donation of land south of Barrel Springs Road was imminent. Unfortunately, the district continued to experience hurdles. Within months of a large developer backing out of the project in 2007, the district purchased another parcel, completing the transaction in February 2008. However, by that time, costs had eroded the Measure R money. Plus, the district had not reached educational center status under the latest state requirements. The college district Board of Trustees, administration and Academic Senate have affirmed their commitment to creating a permanent campus in Palmdale. In the meantime, students continue to be served through the Palmdale Site at 1529 E. Palmdale Blvd. as well as through the Lancaster campus and online.

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Why wasn’t bond money set aside for Palmdale?

Due to federal regulations governing tax-exempt bonds, the district has a limited amount of time to commit bond proceeds to projects. The time we estimate it will take to move forward on a permanent Palmdale campus (now projected at 2014 or later) is beyond that timeline to spend bond money (must be spent by 2012). Furthermore, there are other student and community needs we can respond to utilizing state matching funds: namely the Health and Science Building. Since AVC did not have enough to fully fund a Palmdale campus, the decision was made to invest in the Health and Science Building, which would provide much-needed trained health care workers for Palmdale’s new hospital and additional science and engineering classes for the aerospace industry.

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What are we doing to serve Palmdale students?

As of fall 2008, the Palmdale site at 1529 E. Palmdale Blvd. serves approximately 2,000 students, with 70 percent of them being Palmdale residents. This is more than three times the number of students served at the Palmdale site in 2004-05 when Measure R was passed.

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