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Oxnard College Didn’t Qualify for Funds, Chancellor Says

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Nearly one month after the county’s community college trustees accused state officials of “backdoor deal-making” that shortchanged Oxnard College of money for building renovations, Chancellor Philip Westin told the board Tuesday that the school never qualified for the funds.

Last month, trustees of the Ventura County Community College District lambasted officials from the state chancellor’s office for what they saw as an unfair distribution of money from a statewide bond measure that left some districts with as much as $28.8 million and others with as little as $155,490 to spend on deteriorating facilities and equipment.

Ventura County’s community colleges were allocated $4.5 million, which will go to equip new math and science buildings at Moorpark and Oxnard colleges and to remodel or tear down the old buildings.

Even with state money, the district faces a $1.3-million shortfall for the projects.

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But trustees were particularly upset that Oxnard College’s request for nearly $1 million to modify its chemistry labs was denied.

The college had expected the money to come from Proposition 203. Approved by 62% of the voters, the measure authorized $300 million to be spent on facilities at 106 community colleges in the state.

But state officials told Westin last month that the project never fell within the state’s funding guidelines for the use of Proposition 203 money.

Gil Putnam, the district’s director of facility planning, said the district is working with the state to come up with an alternative way to fund the remodeling at Oxnard College.

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The district could benefit from another statewide school construction bond measure, to be placed on the November ballot, or it could borrow the money, said Ruth Hemming, Oxnard College interim president. She said she hopes to come up with the money without having to delay construction plans.

The school’s new Letters & Science Building is scheduled to open in the spring of 1997. The newly remodeled chemistry labs are scheduled to open that fall.

“We’re hopeful,” Hemming said. “We are still aiming at that timeline.”


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