LTCC ready to tackle Measure F improvements (Opinion)

Jeff DeFranco
Guest column

Greetings to our South Shore community members, and to all those who supported Lake Tahoe Community College’s Measure F bond campaign back in 2014.

Jeff DeFranco

By now, you’ve likely received a copy of LTCC’s annual Measure F bond report in the mail this week. I’d like to highlight some of the projects mentioned in there that will have a significant impact on our campus and community, and to provide a few updates about remaining bond funding and future projects.

First, LTCC is preparing for its third, Series C sale of Measure F bonds in early July, anticipated to yield $14 million. The original Measure F bond ballot language authorized issuing $55 million worth of bonds, with $34 million already sold in Series A and B. Spreading these bond sales out over time allows for phasing of projects and the most efficient use of resources.

In late May, LTCC bond staff will attend rating agency meetings with Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, which will lead to updated credit ratings prior to the Series C sale in July. Since passing the bond, LTCC has received positive upgrades to very respectable A1 and AA ratings by Moody’s and S&P. Better credit ratings allow LTCC to achieve lower interest rates, which translates into lower costs to our local taxpayers. The $14 million expected from this sale will help support the college’s “Remodel for Efficiency” project.

Bond staff at LTCC spent much of 2020 preparing for this large project, with construction beginning in July. It will fundamentally alter LTCC’s campus, upgrading much of the main building and its student support spaces and offices such as counseling, admissions and financial aid. All science and art labs will be modernized and upgraded as well, with significant health and safety improvements made along with the addition of innovative classroom technology and flexible furniture and educational spaces for students.

Our community’s support of Measure F brought in $10 million for this project, and that funding allowed LTCC to then apply for a matching $10 million allocation from the state of California to fully realize the entire scope of this project. This allowed us to literally double our resources for this project. We could not have qualified for this funding without your support, and we are truly grateful for the opportunity to transform so much of LTCC’s campus for a vastly better student experience.

This project will touch a lot of campus, and we ask for your patience as we go: it involves shuffling around student service space and classrooms as we progress through construction. It will all be worth it in January 2023 when we cut the ribbon and experience what modern higher education looks like.

After the Series C sale in July, LTCC will have approximately $7 million remaining for a future Series D sale that will be used to at least partially fund a proposed Tahoe Basin Public Safety Training Center on campus, part of the original Measure F bond ballot language.

The college is pursuing grants and other state and federal funding sources to cover the entire cost of this project, which would result in a stand-alone center for Lake Tahoe Basin Fire Academy cadet training, and space for educating fire and emergency response professionals who are seeking continuing education and recertification in their fields. It will also house other LTCC programs including criminal justice, emergency medical technician, wilderness education, and more.

In June 2020, LTCC broke ground on the Early Learning Center, which will become the permanent home of the Tahoe Parents Nursery School. This beloved Tahoe institution has existed for almost 62 years without a true home. If you travel along College Drive, you’ll see the building is nearly finished. With furniture arriving this summer and final details put in place, we’re anticipating an August 2021 ribbon cutting.

A genuine thank you to our community for providing the funding to raise this beautiful new center in support of the South Shore’s youngest learners. It provides a game-changing educational environment. The ELC facility, together with recent improvements at LTUSD schools and on LTCC’s main campus, creates a complete community pipeline for education that is modern, innovative, and a real source of pride.

We are slowly moving into what feels like a more normal time at LTCC after a long pandemic, and we’re getting closer to educating and serving more of our students in person once again. Some face-to-face classes are being offered this spring, and we will return to a full array of face-to-face classes and on-campus student services for fall quarter 2021. Some limited, in-person services are already available on campus now to current students, and we hope to expand these services and bring back community events and meetings as soon as state COVID guidelines allow for that.

A little more patience, continued mask wearing and distancing, and more vaccinations in our community, and we’ll get there.

We are eager for the day we can welcome all of you back to campus to see the great progress that’s underway thanks to our community’s support of the Measure F bond. Thank you for your continued support, and we’ll see you on campus soon.

Jeff DeFranco is president/superintendent for Lake Tahoe community College.

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