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State Puts Planned Campus for Mission College on Back Burner

December 07, 1985|PAMELA MORELAND | Times Staff Writer

SAN FRANCISCO — The likelihood of state financing to build a campus for Mission College in 1986 was diminished on Friday when the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges decided to postpone adding Mission to its list of projects approved for funding.

Board members said they are confused about several issues surrounding the proposal for $13.9 million for construction of two Mission college buildings, and that they would not vote on the project until that confusion is cleared up.

The delay means that Mission's request will not be forwarded to the state Department of Finance or to Gov. George Deukmejian, and that the appropriation will not be included in the first draft of the 1986-87 state budget, which is drawn up in January.

"This could effectively delay obtaining state construction money for at least another year," said Cedric A. Sampson, an assistant to the chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District.

Members of the community college board said they will hear arguments on why Mission College should be added to the college construction list at their next meeting in January. The northeast San Fernando Valley school has operated for more than a decade without a permanent campus.

"Some board members feel that there is ample space at nearby colleges and that there isn't a need for another campus," said board member Agnes Robinson. "Others are worried that the Los Angeles trustees may spend the money from the sale of the original Mission site for other purposes. We all need time to review the situation further."

State community colleges staff members said that, even with the delay, there is a chance that Mission could be placed on the college construction list for 1986.

If the Board of Governors approves Mission's request in January and the California Postsecondary Education Commission gives its approval the next month, the project could be added to the state's construction list, they said. The project then could be added to the budget as an amendment before the budget is voted on in late June or early July.

Supporters of Mission had hoped that inclusion on the Board of Governors' construction list would signal the end of the 11-year struggle to build the school a permanent home in Sylmar, next to El Cariso County Park.

Tide Has Turned

The school's backers said they believe that they can persuade the board that the tide has turned for the small, homeless college. They noted that Mission was the only Los Angeles district community college to post an enrollment increase this fall.

Last month, the district sold an 80-acre tract in Northridge that originally was intended as the site of the Mission campus. The $12.5 million raised from the sale is earmarked for the start-up of construction on the Sylmar campus.

On Thursday, a committee of the community college board recommended that the board not vote on the project until the Postsecondary Commission gives its approval. The committee also asked for legislation that would stiffen guidelines the district would have to follow in its use of the $12.5 million.

"We have a variety of questions and we just need more information in general," said George Kieffer, president of the board, after Friday's meeting of the full board.

"If the board approved Mission's request next month and the funding request can be added to the approved construction list, then we are in no worse of a position because of the postponement," Kieffer said.

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