Cuesta College renews search for South County site

March 10, 2011

Cuesta College is searching for a new South County education center site after negotiations with owners of a proposed Grover Beach property were abandoned.

Cuesta College officials had offered to pay 75 cents a square foot for the Grover Beach industrial park.

However, during negotiations last week the owners of the park said they needed $1.10 a square foot. The lease would have cost Cuesta College more than it is currently paying for classrooms at Lucia Mar Unified School District’s Nipomo and Arroyo Grande high schools.

Moving classrooms to a centralized location would give students an opportunity to study in a college facility with classes offered days, evenings and weekends. Classes are currently offered Monday through Thursday after 4 p.m. in high school classrooms.

On Wednesday, the Board of Trustees accepted Superintendent/President Dr. Gil Stork’s recommendation to eliminate the industrial park as the site for the college’s proposed South County Education Center.

“While the Huston Street property is no longer a viable option, the South County Education Center project is still alive,” Stork said. “The need to provide our students in the South County with a learning environment on par with the North County and San Luis Obispo campuses is still a critical one. Just as important is our need to find a viable site that is cost-neutral to the district.”

Cuesta College has been renting classroom space from Lucia Mar Unified School District since 1965, and Stork has maintained from the outset of the campaign that a new location would only be viable if the college’s rental costs did not increase at a new facility.

In an unprecedented move, a majority of the donors who have pledged approximately $750,000 towards the project, agreed to keep their pledges in place for use at an alternative site while the search continues.

In response to their support, Dr. Stork founded the President’s South County Community Council composed of members from the Foundation’s Campaign Gifts Committee and prominent local supporters of education. The purpose of the council is to offer recommendations about the project and to actively seek alternative locations for the new site in the Arroyo Grande and Grover Beach areas.

The President’s South County Community Council includes local volunteers Ken Levine, Gracia Bello, Roxanne Carr, Charlie Cabassi, Jacqueline Frederick, Mike Frederick, Doug Hilton, Vard Ikeda, Howard Mankins, Mike Miner, Carroll Pruett, Rob Strong, Iris Swisher and Anita Robinson.

“The community has really rallied around the concept of a stand-alone South County Education Center,” said Barbara George, interim executive director of the Foundation. “The support from donors, local businesses and elected officials has been very motivating for everyone involved. They are just as invested in the success of this project as we are.”

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

For once, I agree with Wise Guy. There is absolutely no need to a South County campus for Cuesta. Waste of time and money. Focus on accreditation. Don’t try to compete with Allan Hancock.

Look at the list of supporters. Nearly every one stands to personally profit if this project goes through and taxpayers are left on the hook forever, maintaining these new buildings, helping these “supporters” get rich off of taxpayers. .

By renting school facilities in the South County, the money stays within the local education system. But building a new campus means paying to outside companies forever.

Alan Hancock College is expanding its campus as we speak. I can drive from Grover Beach and literally be inside a Hancock classroom in 25 minutes. I don’t see why building a new campus in the South County is necessary.