Orange : Rancho Santiago College Opening Local Campus

The first students will hit the books today on the newest campus of Rancho Santiago College at 8045 E. Chapman Ave, about 14 years after residents began paying a portion of their property taxes toward the project.

Fifteen classrooms will be open in the long building on the 30-acre campus. A second building will be completed in October, and a library facility should be opened at about the same time.

The property tax levy raised about $3 million in five years which was used to purchase the land, but the facility couldn't be completed until state funding was approved for construction three years ago. Rancho Santiago hopes to be able to purchase an additional 65 acres of adjacent Irvine Co. land to expand the campus sometime in the future, spokeswoman Donna Hatchet said.

About 2,000 students are expected to attend the college's first semester with about 3,000 more anticipated after the second building opens. General education classes will be offered in such fields as history, English and astronomy.

In addition to its main campus at 17th and Bristol streets in Santa Ana, the college also operates a campus in Garden Grove and two adult education facilities in Orange and Santa Ana.

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