Measure A money is spent but TC officials say they have more work that needs to be done



The West Kern Community College District is three weeks away from avote to place an $85 million bond issue on the June
ballot.
It will be the second time this century the District has gone to the voters to seek a property tax increase to pay for a modernization and expansion bond.
Measure A, passed in 2004 by District voters, raised $39 million in local property tax and Taft College was able to obtain
more than $60 million in other funding sources to modernize most of the current campus and build a new center for the transition to Independent Living Program and a new student center still under construction.
But there is still much more work to be done, District
officials say.
The college's dental hygiene program is still housed in modular buildings, as are some classrooms located on what were once tennis courts next to the Al Baldock Cougar Sport Center.
The college campus is too small, landlocked and needs room for more instructional space and parking.
One plan getting strong consideration is buying vacant land off campus to build a sports complex for the school's athletic programs with baseball, softball and soccer fields. 
Athletic fields on the campus would then be freed for classroom buildings or more on-campus parking.
The last of the Measure A money is being spent on the new student center, which is now expected to be done sometime in the fall of this year. 
The District started exploring the possibility on a new bond last year and in September hired several firms to conduct a study. 
Phone survey results indicate support for another bond, Board President Dawn Cole said after a study session at a special
meeting Tuesday.
"The results showed positive support," Cole said. "That was the first step."
The college is poised to vote at its next meeting on Feb. 14 meeting a deadline to place the bond issue on the June ballot.
Here is the text of a draft of the proposed bond as it will be placed on the ballot:
"To improve the quality of education at Taft College shall the West Kern  Community College District upgrade job training,
dental hygiene, science /technology facilities, repair leaky roofs, remove asbestos/lead paint, construct acquire facilities/equipment to prepare students/veterans for jobs and 4-year college transfers by issuing $85,000,000 in bonds at
legal rates, averaging $3.9 raised annually for bonds through maturity rates of approximately 2.5 cents per $100 assessed value with independent audits/citizens' oversight and all funds benefitting Taft College?"
This type of bond needs a minimum 55 percent of the vote and requires yearly audits and a citizen oversight committee.
The money can only be used on capitol projects - building, repairing and purchasing property - and not for salaries or any operating expense. 
The college hired several firms in September when it launched the exploratory process.
Representatives of two -- a legal firm handling bond counsel duties and a second to help with the survey, spoke at Tuesday's
board meeting. Amanda Clifford of Clifford Moss, a strategy and public affairs firm, discussed the survey and feasibility
study that took place to lay the groundwork for the Board and attorney Courtney Jones discussed the requirements
to get the bond on the ballot in time for the June election.
Voters in much of the West Kern Community College District are still paying on three bonds -- Measure A and two Taft
City School District bonds.
Dental Hygiene layoff
In other business, the Board approved the layoff of a 32-hour per week employee of the dental hygiene program whose job
was eliminated after Taft College decided to get out of a dental hygiene program serving eastern Kern County.
The college's participation in the First 5 Dental Hygiene program ends March 31, Superintendent- President Debra Daniels
told the Board. Under the program, TC dental hygiene students travelled to the eastern Kern County area to conduct
dental screening exams, but college officials were not happy with the grant and the long travel that students had to do..