October 28, 1998
Extract from
SMCCCD Board Meeting Summary

Received a report on a polling survey undertaken recently to assess voters' willingness to support a potential bond measure for community college facilities. Bryan Godbe, a consultant hired by the Board to conduct the survey, described the survey methodology and error rates and gave a detailed look at the major findings. Before receiving any information about local community colleges, survey respondents were asked how likely they were to support a $110 million bond measure. Fifty-eight percent responded that they would "definitely" or "probably" vote yes. Respondents were then asked which projects they considered to be in greatest need for funding. The findings, in order of importance to potential voters, were: fixing leaky roofs; providing programs to improve the preparation of transfer students; updating computer labs; providing improved vocational/technical program facilities; improving and updating science labs; updating nursing/health program facilities; repairing plumbing, heating and ventilation; improving library facilities and improving exterior lighting.

Respondents were more inclined to vote for the measure if they knew that the District had prepared a detailed plan for facility repairs; if the funds were used to remove asbestos, retrofit facilities and improve accessibility; if funds were used to provide facilities to train students for Silicon Valley jobs; and if they knew that none of the funds would be used for administrative salaries. As expected, respondents' support for the measure increased as the cost of the measure went down. Mr. Godbe noted that other strong arguments for the measure include the fact that community colleges offer a bargain to taxpayers; the measure is affordable; community colleges offer numerous opportunities for adults; and local community colleges transfer approximately 2000 students each year to four-year colleges.

Toward the end of the survey, after respondents had heard some of the arguments for and against the bond measure, respondents were again asked whether they would support he measure. The "definitely and probably yes" responses increased to 67%, the vote needed to pass a local bond measure.

Mr. Godbe told the Board and audience that based on the survey results, he would advise going forward with a measure, but only if the District is able to raise approximately $200,000 for a campaign (which cannot be financed by District funds). In his estimation, that is the amount needed to educate voters about the needs of the Colleges and to push the "yes" votes from 58% to 67%. He extensively discussed the timing of such a bond measure, and suggested that the date depends on how fast the District believes it can raise the necessary $200,000.

Did the Board follow Mr Godbe's advice?