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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 3rd, 2013, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 14, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 14, Issue 39

Bond sales mean more building at Hancock

BY CAMILLIA LANHAM

With $8.6 million in bond sales on Nov. 21, folks at Allan Hancock College are getting ready to do some building shuffling.

The college’s associate superintendent of administrative services, Elizabeth Miller, said staff members would be moving into the new administration building before 2013 closes out. She’s also anticipating that the new public safety building will be open for classes starting in spring 2014. The industrial technology building is slated for completion by mid-spring and will most likely hold classes by summer 2014.

The bonds were sold after Wall Street analyst Standard and Poor elevated the college’s credit rating to AA/stable, which was reaffirmed by Moody’s Investor Services.

“What this means is that the industry’s leading credit analysts have affirmed that Allan Hancock College has properly managed its budget and the bond funds entrusted to it,” president/superintendent Kevin Walthers said in a press release.

So far Hancock has issued more than 50 percent of the $180 million general obligation bond, Measure I, which Northern Santa Barbara County voters approved in 2006. Measure I money goes to the college’s facility improvement efforts. Miller said there are approximately $83 million in bonds left to issue, but they’re taking small carefully planned steps so the college doesn’t put too much of a burden on area taxpayers.

“It’s allowing us to transform our campus,” Miller said.

She said Hancock looks more like a college campus than it ever had in the past, and with the new buildings comes updated technology. She used the new science building as an example.

“We had students coming out of high school who had been working in labs that were vastly superior to what we had. It was almost like they were taking a step backwards,” Miller said.

Now the science labs are fully outfitted, and the benefits of those improvements can be seen in the number of high school students who decide to attend Hancock after graduation, rather than take the more direct route to a four-year college. Miller said that number has increased since buildings started going up.

Another benefit from the construction is the college’s ability to offer new programs and more classes.

This round of bond sales will also go to fund completion of the last of the student center buildings and demolition of a couple of  the campus’s older buildings to make room for parking. In the future, the project list includes a new fine arts building.

But that, Miller said, is a little farther down the line.

“We’re hoping for a reprieve,” Miller said. “It’d be nice to get some of that construction fencing down for a while.”