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LA Community Colleges Switching to Solar, Need More Funding

Los Angeles Sentinel, Commentary, Jason Lewis Posted: Aug 19, 2008

Getting Schools Up to Par Will Cost More Than 3 Billion, Officials Say

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) is catching up with the times, and maybe getting a little ahead, by upgrading their facilities with state of the art buildings and classrooms.

Technology based jobs are the wave of the future, and the only way that residents of Los Angeles are going to be able to obtain those jobs is through a state of the art education.

Fifty percent of LACCD students live below the poverty level, so it is very important for the district to be able to give students the best possible education so that they will be able to obtain a job that will give them a better life.

The district has received $2.2 billion through two measures in 2001 and 2003 to upgrade the facilities on the nine LACCD campuses. Larry Eisenberg, Executive Director of Facilities Planning and Development for the LACCD, said that the district has spent $1.4 billion so far on new construction and repairs to existing buildings. The district is spending about $15-20 million per week. At that rate the district would have exhausted their funds by next year.

The district is looking for an additional $3.5 billion to complete the various projects. The community will be able to vote on Measure J this fall to allow the district to obtain the money that it needs.

Reginald Byron Jones-Sawyer, the chair of the LACCD Citizens Oversight Committee, refers to the measure as Measure Jobs. Eisenberg calculates that 29,000 new jobs will be created by this project.

State of the art facilities and curriculum based on new technology will train students for the complicated jobs of today. A number of green-related jobs have been created over the past five years, and the district looks to train students so that they can obtain employment in those fields.

The district looks to become the first chain of colleges to produce their own energy through solar power, which Eisenberg points out will save the district $10 million per year. That money can be used to create more jobs within the district. There will need to be workers to maintain the equipment. There will need to be workers to keep the new buildings clean. And there will need to be more professors in the new classrooms.

Eisenberg envisions that when the project is completed the district will be able to offer students the education to obtain employment in high tech fields.

We need to incorporate state of the art technology that prepares students for the jobs of the future where technology is going to be the key, Eisenberg said.

By having new facilitates and curriculum the district will be able to attract many residents who may not think about attending a college. The population is also growing at a fast pace, so more buildings and professors are needed.

With more educated residents who will have good paying jobs, the economy of Los Angeles will be stimulated.

With all of the new construction African-American builders have been able to benefit. Last year over $1 million went to African-American firms.

It is important to the community for the LACCD to be able to give students the best possible education. Voting yes on Measure J this fall will ensure a bright future for the youth of Los Angeles.

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