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Funds Back in the Budget for a Mission College Home

June 07, 1986|DOUG SMITH | Times Staff Writer

The long-frustrated effort to secure state funds to build a permanent Mission College campus has cleared a major obstacle. The Legislature's conference committee on the budget has put $8.95 million for the college into the 1986-1987 budget.

The budget is expected to be approved by the conference committee in a special meeting this weekend and sent to the Legislature for final passage. It then must be signed by Gov. George Deukmejian, who has the power to veto individual items, and be approved with a higher education bond issue on the November ballot.

Supporters of the Mission College campus, however, said they are now confident.

"Mission College has never come this far before," Assemblyman Richard Katz (D-Sepulveda) said. Katz submitted the Mission College allocation to the conference committee after failing to get the measure into the Assembly version of the budget last month.

The request was adopted without comment Thursday.

Dispersed Classrooms

The state money, combined with $12.5 million in district funds, would be used to prepare the campus grounds and build a combination instructional and administrative building. Eventually, the campus will replace the dispersed storefront classrooms that have served the northeast Valley college for more than a decade.

The district's share of the money was set aside from the sale of 80 acres of land in Northridge last year.

"It will be a modest facility to replace some of the buildings that are substandard that we are currently leasing at considerable cost to the district," said Mission College President Lowell Erickson. He said the building could be completed by spring of 1988.

If the money comes through, the campus will rise on district-owned land at Eldridge Avenue and Hubbard Street, near El Cariso Regional Park in Sylmar.

Supporters of the college credited a change of position by the California Community Colleges Board of Governors as the decisive event in a seesaw battle to get the state money into this budget this year.

Enrollment Projections

In December, the board declined to recommend money for Mission College, suggesting that enrollment projections did not justify a campus. Enrollment last fall was 3,419, an increase of 2% over the previous year.

Under a broad lobbying effort that Erickson said brought together groups "from the Young Republicans to the NAACP," the board reversed itself in January. The California Post-Secondary Education Commission added its endorsement in April.

Prospects for the state money seemed to collapse again, however, when Deukmejian left the allocation out of his proposed budget in January.

Katz was then unable to get the allocation into the Assembly version of the budget because, he said, members of the budget subcommittee for education did not want to add to the governor's budget.

Last month, state Sen. Alan Robbins (D-Van Nuys), another supporter of the Mission College campus, persuaded the Senate budget subcommittee on education to include the allocation in its version.

Katz predicted Friday that Deukmejian will leave the money intact. He said he believes the governor would have included the money in his budget had he known it would gain the support of the educational establishment.

"The timing was off," Katz said. "If the Board of Governors and the post-secondary commission had done it six months earlier, it would have been on the governor's list."

Katz said he is equally confident that the voters will approve the higher education bond issue.

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