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More On Contra Costa Community College District Opportunity

The following additional information was just provided by the current trustee, David MacDiarmid. Note that the filing deadline is August 18, not August 11 as I previously wrote.

An open seat, no incumbent is running.

Trustee Ward 1 Contra Costa Community College District

Election November 2006

Filing deadline August 18, 2006

The Board meets monthly and usually schedules about 6 special meetings per year.

Ward 1 is the cities of San Pablo, Richmond and El Cerrito and the unincorporated areas of East Richmond Heights, El Sobrante, North Richmond and Montalvan Manor.

Contra Costa Community College District consists of all of Contra Costa County. The District operates 3 community colleges: Contra Costa College in the cities of San Pablo and Richmond, Diablo Valley College in Pleasant Hill and Los Medanos College Pittsburg. In addition the District operates 2 learning centers; The South County Center in San Ramon and the Brentwood Center in Brentwood. A new learning center in Walnut Creek will open this fall in a leased building and currently is enrolled with slightly less than 1,000 students.

                                                                Full time Students

Diablo Valley College                                       15,000*

Los Medanos   College                                      7,000*

Contra Costa College                                         6,500*

South County Learning Center                            4,000*

Brentwood Learning Center                                2,500*

            *Approximate Numbers

Acreage has been acquired in Brentwood sufficient to build a full Community College to replace the existing Brentwood Learning Center as the population of that area grows.

The fastest growing institutions have been Los Medanos College, the South County Learning Center and the Brentwood Center. Contra Costa College and Diablo Valley College have had stable enrollments in recent years.

The College District passed a $120 million bond issue in 2004 and a $283 million bond in June of 2006. The District is poised for the first major expansion of its facilities since the 1960ís. The decisions that are made over the next 5 years will probably determine the basic shape of education in our county for the next 25 or 30 years. It will be an exciting time for the College District and the decisions that are made will affect the education of our young people for a generation. The person who assumes this seat will face sobering responsibility and great opportunity.

There are many challenges that face the College District. The lack of preparation of the young people who come to our system is, in my opinion, among the most serious especially here in West Contra Costa. More that 30% of the high school graduates who enter our colleges require remedial education in order to perform at college level. This number has been growing. The more District resources are diverted to remedial education the less is available for the programs that have traditionally defined a college experience. The enriched classes like advanced calculus, second year foreign languages, and advanced English classes compete with remedial education for education resources.  Our colleges must be more than big high schools and should offer an experience comparable to the State University System. It will be increasingly important for the Community College system to work with high schools and the legislature to resolve this problem.

The baby boomer retirement bubble will have a major effect on our Community College District. Almost 40% of our faculty will retire by the end of this decade. Finding qualified replacements for these experienced dedicated teachers will be a most important task. If we can offer competitive salaries and good working conditions to a new generation of teachers, the future of our county will be brilliant.

At our last Board meeting staff prepared a financial report that compared education cost in our District against the costs of three other northern California multi college districts. Contra Costa Community Colleges were the highest cost in the comparison. This is partly due to the fact that the average age of our faculty is higher than others and because of that they are at the top of the salary scale. But part of the cost differential is due to a lack of management discipline. Our new Chancellor Helen Benjiman is determined to solve this problem. The College District currently has about $10 million in reserve so there is time to resolve this issue. But this trend must be reversed over the next several years.

The next term on the College Board will be challenging and exciting. Not a job for the feint of heart or short of breath. I would like to recruit a younger (than me) candidate(s) who may have children in the system or coming into the system. A candidate(s) who is smart and energetic with an eye on the future. The College District is about the future. I believe that in many ways the Colleges of Contra Costa will define the future of our county.

As for me, I am 63 year old and nearing retirement. My children are grown and finished with school. I am finishing my 3rd term (12 years) on the College Board and a total of almost 21 years in elected office. I have had the opportunity to sing my song and tell my jokes. So I can say with a smile that it is time for me to go. It has been a wonderful 12 years on the College Board.

Dave MacDiarmid
Trustee Ward 1
Contra Costa Community College District