I am pleased to present this 2008 Report to the Community, which highlights accomplishments made over the past year as part of the ongoing campus improvement program at Mt. San Antonio College. This report complies with state Proposition 39, which requires the college's Citizens' Oversight Committee to inform the public about how Mt. SAC has utilized the proceeds from the voter-approved $221-million Measure R Facilities Construction Bond.
On behalf of the committee, I am pleased to report that Mt. SAC has continued to make progress over the past year having completed expansion of the Music Building, construction of an Information Technology Center, and the first phase of the Student Services Center renovation. Over the past seven years with the funds from Measure “R” the college has upgraded aging infrastructure, installed cutting-edge technology and renovated and/or built 15 facilities that now foster innovative teaching and learning for the 65,000 students who use the campus annually.
During the past year the committee has been given detailed briefings by the college leadership and construction/renovation staff, has reviewed the details of expenditures, and has toured all ongoing construction projects during the year. As a result of these reviews, the committee commends Mt. SAC management for its diligence in managing these projects with significant price competition for construction materials and labor. Particularly noteworthy was the early-on commitment to build “green,” which will ensure that new facilities are energy efficient at all times, especially under extreme conditions.
Equally important is fiscal accountability. In this key area, I am also pleased to report that the most recent auditor's statement found that Mt. SAC “has properly accounted for the expenditures of the funds held in the Bond Building Fund and that such expenditures were made on authorized bond projects.” This finding is tempered, however, by the stormy net effect that inflation and construction cost volatility have had on Mt. SAC's seven-year construction effort. Unfortunately, escalating material costs eroded Mt. SAC's buying power ( see sidebar ) and forced the college to defer some projects.
Despite these and other unforeseeable challenges, Mt. SAC has completed most of the projects comprising the original Measure R package.
I extend special appreciation to the members of the Citizens' Oversight Committee, who are charged with the fiduciary role of ensuring fiscal accountability and sound program management. We believe that our collective efforts will best serve Mt. SAC's core mission and the educational needs of local families for generations to come.
Much like the construction industry nationwide, Mt. SAC's Measure R construction program was significantly affected by the skyrocketing costs for basic materials—primarily steel and concrete.
At the onset, Mt. SAC budgeted $200 per square foot for new construction. This cost calculation (with a built-in inflation factor) worked well in 2003 during construction of the Language and Health Careers centers, which came in under budget at $165 per square foot.
Over the next two years, however, building costs soared, significantly increasing overall project costs. For example, the new Math/Science Building (now under construction) was bid at $290 per square foot in 2006—a 57% increase.
With such price spikes along the way, it is understandable why it became impossible to build all of the proposed Measure R projects with the bond proceeds. Prospectively, material and building cost volatility remain a reality in today's uncertain economy.