In a major move to revitalize education for community college students, the Ventura County Community College District embarked on a multi-layered mission to improve programs and upgrade facilities. Armed with $356 million in bond and $81 million in state funds, the district hired Heery to manage planning, project development, and implementation for a comprehensive capital improvement program. The program includes more than 60 projects on three existing college campuses in Ventura, Moorpark and Oxnard and a public safety training center in Camarillo. Improvements include constructing new facilities, upgrading infrastructure systems, and renovating parking lots. Among the newly constructed facilities are student service centers, health science centers, an arts complex, a science and arts center, and an auditorium and television complex.
Heery and the district developed the multi-million-dollar bond program into more than 60 specific, implementable projects, integrating educational master plans, facility master plans, capital and operational funding, and carving out tangible schedules for getting the work done.
Despite the excitement and expectations of the project, the wish list of desired improvements on the three campuses exceeded the total amount of bond funds. Heery’s first crucial step was to help the three colleges prioritize their needs and come to consensus on what programs should take precedence for funding. Paying particular attention to the colleges need for an inclusive process, Heery carved out 18 months for critical discussions and collaborative decision making meetings among key groups of faculty, staff, students, trustees, and community members. Each college president was asked to develop a college-wide committee to meet and select those programs and buildings targeted for improvements, and those to be downsized or cancelled in order to meet budget requirements.
One of the greatest challenges was that essential, albeit un-glamorous, infrastructure repairs, as well as indirect planning expenses from environmental impact reports and new college master plans, were left out of Measure S. These basic items included such things as phone, electrical, and telecommunication systems. Without these critical upgrades, the new buildings would be nearly useless, lacking the capacity to hook up to electrical power or computer access. Although faculty and trustees sensed the urgency for the repairs no one wanted to sacrifice their project or program. To solve the problem, Heery devised a “project tax”, through which each individual project paid for its share of the required infrastructure upgrades and indirect planning costs.
The program has achieved enormous success and is currently delivering the program under budget, with savings being returned to the capital program for reassessment. Key project components included: