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Release No. COC-01.28.16-MeasureM
Jan. 28, 2016
Citizens Bond Committee Reviews Construction Progress and Audits

Measure M audits verify proper spending of bond funds for nine straight years
The Santa Clarita Community College District’s Measure M Citizens’ Oversight Committee met recently to receive an update on facilities development at College of the Canyons and to accept the results of an independent audit of the bond funds. 

The nine-member committee, which ensures the $160 million in bonds approved by voters in 2006 are appropriately spent, heard a presentation from Jim Schrage, assistant superintendent/vice president of facilities planning, operations, and construction at the college, at its January 19 meeting.  

With the completion of the Canyons Hall student services facility, and the College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education, the college’s 2012-17 master plan for Valencia campus construction is largely complete, Schrage said.  The new comprehensive master plan currently under development will guide the development of educational programs and facilities for 2016 to 2021 at the Valencia and Canyon Country campuses.  

Already under way for the Canyon Country campus are architectural plans for a 24,000-square-foot Science Center that will provide eight labs and a 75-seat lecture hall.  This will be the second permanent building to be constructed at the campus, which opened in 2007 with modular facilities.  This much-needed facility will increase the number of lab classes offered, and help students move more quickly into well-paying jobs in burgeoning health and science fields.  Construction is expected to start in 2017. 

And, by next fall, students at the Canyon Country campus can expect to see 275 lighted parking spaces made available, Schrage said. 

Also on the committee’s agenda was the review and acceptance of audits on expenditures related to Measure M. For the ninth year in a row, the audit confirmed the college spent funds as authorized in the bond approved by voters, and did so in compliance with all laws and accountability measures set forth in Proposition 39, the California Constitution, and mandated by California education code. The audit also verified that bond funds were not spent on general administration or operational costs.

“These results demonstrate that College of the Canyons has done an outstanding job managing the proceeds from Measure M bonds,” said Nick Lentini, chair of the district’s Measure M Citizens Oversight Committee.  “The community can be assured that the college has maximized the value of Measure M funds to ensure students have access to the highest quality learning environments and technology.”

Vavrinek, Trine, Day & Co. LLP, conducted both financial and performance audits, covering the fiscal year ended on June 30, 2015. The firm issued an unmodified opinion, the best rating possible. The auditor’s report noted no adjustments, audit findings, questioned costs, or instances of noncompliance associated with the bond – further confirming that all funds have been spent appropriately. 

“We’re very proud of our ongoing record of consistent financial management that is reflected in the audits of our bond funds,” said Sharlene Coleal, the college’s assistant superintendent/vice president of business services. 

Local voters approved the $160 million general obligation bond Measure M, in November 2006. The District has $20 million in bonds to be issued at a future date, after issuing $80 million in bonds in May 2007, $35 million in bonds in May 2012, and $25 million in bonds in September 2014.

“Measure M has greatly benefitted our local community, with millions of dollars infused into the local economy, and jobs created through a decade of construction projects,” COC Chancellor Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook said. “And, with funding from our own local bond measure, we have been able to qualify for state construction funds that enabled us to enhance the impact of Measure M and build state-of-the art facilities that prepare people for well-paying jobs in growing fields.”

By supplementing the bond funds with earned interest and roughly $89.4 million in state match and other sources of construction funding, an estimated $ 261.4 million in projects are planned. 

The 2014-15 audit confirms approximately $152 million in resources from the first three bond issuances, which also includes earned interest and net premiums on the bonds.  Of that amount, more than $126 million has been expended on authorized bond projects, leaving the district with a Measure M bond project fund balance of $25.8 million as of June 30, 2015. 

Since its passage, Measure M bond funds have been used on a wide variety of major facilities projects and campus expansions at the college, including the construction of the Canyon Country campus and the creation of the Dr. Dianne G. Van Hook University Center.

Other projects include the construction of the Applied Technology Education Center (ATEC) at the Canyon Country campus, the dramatic expansions of Mentry Hall and the Library/TLC (The Learning Center) at the Valencia campus, and the recently completed Canyons Hall student services/administration building and College of the Canyons Institute for Culinary Education. 

“We look forward to building on this foundation of success and moving forward with additional permanent buildings at the Canyon Country campus, along with needed upgrades to decades-old facilities at the Valencia Campus,” Van Hook said.  “As we finalize our new master plan to guide future development, we will be working to identify and acquire the funding necessary to make our plans become reality.” 

Follow the link for more information about Measure M or the Measure M Citizens Oversight Committee.