FAIRFIELD — Solano Community College is moving into the future with myriad projects born out of the passage of Measure Q, a $348 million facilities bond passed in 2012.
Projects will touch each of the three campuses – Fairfield, Vacaville and Vallejo – and include new or improved libraries at all three locations, performing arts facility projects in Fairfield, an auto technology building in Vallejo and biotechnology facilities in Vacaville.
Refurbishment of the administration building, including the governing board meeting room, is nearly complete and it will be in use in the near future. It is being funded by some of the last Measure G bond money from the previous facilities measure that passed in 2002.
Solano College offers a variety of opportunities for its students, giving them the ability to earn a certificate, a degree or transfer to a four-year institution. In addition to core academic classes, it offers programs in nursing, cosmetology and horticulture.
The college recently opened an automotive technology program at an off-campus location in Vallejo and with the re-location of the amphibious sport airplane company Icon Aircraft to Vacaville, the college is looking at a partnership benefiting the college’s students in its aeronautics program.
While the college has an auto body program, it has not had an automotive technology program for more than a decade.
The college partnered with both the Vacaville and Fairfield-Suisun school districts in offering high school students an Early College High School program, giving selected students a tandem high school and college education. The Vacaville program began in the fall of 2013 and the Fairfield program started in 2014. While the programs share a similar name, they are different in nature, with each school district choosing the route they believe best benefits their students.
The college district also recently added solar array panels to each of its campuses. The project began in February 2013 and is designed to cut the district’s electricity use by 60 percent, saving more than $500,000 a year.
The passage of a state sales tax increase a couple of years ago and the return of summer school last year signaled a brighter future after some tough budget cuts in the past years, but throughout this the college has struggled with declining enrollment, which ultimately played havoc with the college’s bottom line. That caused, as of August, a $2.6 million deficit, necessitating some budget cuts in order to present a balanced budget.
Yulian Ligioso, the college’s vice president of finance and administration, said the declining enrollment is hitting many community colleges in the Northern California area, much of it attributed to a drop in unemployment as the economy improves and the state’s decision to stop paying the college full-time equivalent student revenue for students who take repeat classes such as Drawing 1 five times because they like to draw.
The community college was established in Vallejo in 1945 as Vallejo Junior College and was part of the Vallejo City School District until 1967. The 192-acre main campus on Suisun Valley Road was completed in 1971. The college district also has a 10-acre site in Vallejo, a 60-acre site in Vacaville and a presence on Travis Air Force Base.
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