Q&A with Gavilan College board candidates

Each candidate answered the same three questions

The Times sent three questions to all of the local candidates for the Gavilan College Board of Trustees in contested races for the Nov. 6 election. Answers were limited to 50 words each question.

Here’s what they had to say:

Trustee Area 3

EDWIN DIAZ

If Measure X passes in the Nov. 6 election, what would you prioritize as the top three projects?

If Measure X passes, my three priority projects are consistent with the interest of providing students with expanded access to state-of-the-art classrooms. They are the Hollister Education Center, classroom upgrades on the main campus, including the STEM Center, and additional classroom space in Coyote Valley.

Is there one existing program you’d like to see expanded or a new program you’d like to see implemented at Gavilan College, and why?

The greatest obstacle to student success is a student who enters Gavilan College not ready for college level instruction. I would like to see a new partnership, developed and co-taught by college and K-12 faculty, that identifies students in 11th grade and addresses their academic deficiencies prior to enrollment at Gavilan.

What do you see as the biggest challenges facing Gavilan College over the next few years?

Gavilan College will face significant budget issues over the next few years. All community colleges are facing the uncertainty of implementing a new, state required, performance based funding model. In addition, Gavilan is facing significant issues of deficit spending, loss of enrollment, and rising employee pension and operational costs.

WALTER GLINES

Measure X

Complete master plan for Gilroy campus additions/changes putting lab science building/classrooms first, new library second. We don’t have enough labs and classrooms now. The library dates back to 1968. Second, planning for a Hollister campus but that means state approval (time). Third, a classroom building in Gilroy.

Walter Glines

New program

Student success/guided pathways: Here’s why: Most students who enter a community college never complete a degree or certificate or transfer to a 4-year university. Researchers project that California’s public higher education system is not producing nearly enough educated graduates to meet future workforce needs.

Biggest challenges

Funding for current unmet needs including facilities. Measure X on the November ballot will provide a good start. We are not up-to-date with technology and need to be poised for further such advancements to meet student needs in the future. Add distance ed classes.

Trustee Area 5

JEANNE WALLACE

Measure X

First, construction of the Hollister campus, which is already slated as the college’s number one building priority.

Second, repair/replace/upgrade existing infrastructure on the main campus, for the safety and health of students and staff.

Third, upgrade computer and science lab facilities, so that students receive current and relevant training.

Jeannie Wallace

New program

I’d like to see a comprehensive health clinic on the main campus, and on the Hollister campus when built. It could be paired with the nursing and medical assistance programs, so that those students receive more practical experience. Access to basic health care on campus would remove an obstacle to success.

Biggest challenges

A recent study found that 70% of California community college students fail to transfer or graduate. Turning this around has to be the biggest challenge facing every community college. The Guided Pathways program and construction of the Hollister campus will help, but we must do more to engage students.

RICHARD PEREZ

Measure X

Priority number 1, the campus in Hollister. Priority number 2, opening up new classes in Hollister using existing agreement with San Benito High School for classrooms. Priority number 3, repairs and renovations to the Gilroy campus.

New program

Yes, we need to add more Ag Tech classes, this untapped market will grow exponentially in the coming decades. The future of farming has the potential to create new and exciting careers. As the demand for efficiency rises, technology can play a huge role in seeding, watering, and harvesting.

Biggest challenges

One, if not the biggest, keeping cost for services within reason and on budget. Making Gavilan a viable and affordable school for the next generation of students. Holding the administration accountable for good and bad decisions that have a direct impact on students.

Trustee Area 7

MICHAEL ALCORN

Measure X

A new campus in San Benito County to address the growing needs of the community. Next, expand the number of classes for certified, vocational, and degree programs to improve access and availability. And lastly, renovate the aging main campus and the Veteran’s Resource Center.

Michael Alcorn

New program

More collaboration is needed with K-12 and our regional workforce agencies to enhance Gavilan’s impact and relevance for all residents. For example, the Gilroy Early College Academy is a partnership with Gavilan that enables high school students to earn an associate’s degrees and/or college credits, supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

Biggest challenges

Access and Affordability is the Biggest Challenge—the rising cost of higher education fuels demand, but system wide 600,000 community college students have been shut out in recent years. State budget cuts of more than $1.5 billion since 2007 impact tuition, course availability, and the number of students.

IRMA C. GONZALEZ

Measure X

Bring educational center to San Benito County as promised with Measure E bond. Once we reach 500 FTEs, petition Chancellor’s Office for full campus status.

#2: Build new facilities, including, STEM building. Ensure facilities built in 1967 are repaired, upgraded meeting current earthquake safety standards.

#3: Expand Veterans Center.

Irma Gonzalez

New program

Careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) are now prevalent, we must shift our focus to meet demand and secure our place in a rapidly changing educational landscape. AB705 underscores the need to develop curriculum articulation between high schools to reduce the number of students taking remedial courses in college.

Biggest challenges

Low full-time student enrollment, at the end of FY 2015/16 Gavilan lost enrollment, causing it to be placed on stability for FY 16/17 by the Chancellor’s Office and lose funding. In 2017 FTE total was 5,995. Obtaining higher enrollment numbers is one of the biggest challenges that must be overcome.

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