FACULTY TOWERS TO BE DEMOLISHED

Crews broke ground on a long-awaited project to demolish Cal State Bakersfield's Faculty Towers Building and make way for construction of a new building that would provide more space.

The Faculty Towers replacement building will include 59 offices – nine more than the old building – and administrative spaces to support four departments and the dean of the School of Arts and Humanities. It will be located in the northwest part of campus next to the Music Building.

The project also includes a humanities classroom addition adjacent to the new towers that will include three rooms. It's budgeted at $3.6 million.

BAKERSFIELD COLLEGE HONORED 

The Campaign for College Opportunity honored Bakersfield College along with 15 other colleges Friday at the state capital for increasing the number of students receiving Associate Degrees for Transfer.

California's ADT program was established by the STAR Act in 2010, which aims to cut down on redundant requirements creating hurdles for students trying to transfer to four-year universities.

“Bakersfield College offers Kern County students multiple transfer pathways into the CSU system in our effort to improve their career opportunities, which ultimately benefits their families and communities. We appreciate the recognition from the Campaign for College Opportunity—they are truly committed to student equity and success in the state of California,” BC President Sonya Christian said.

Associate Degrees for Transfer ensure that students are eligible to transfer with a degree in their major with 60 transferable credits and are guaranteed to complete a bachelor’s degree with 60 additional college credits. 

ARVIN WANTS SATELLITE CAMPUS

Citing high poverty and a low level of education among community members, organizers in south Kern are pushing for the Kern Community College District to establish a satellite campus in Arvin.

Organizers from Building Healthy Communities South Kern said they will press district trustees Thursday to include the campus in the final language for a bond measure they are considering bringing to voters in the November election.

“The distance and transportation options to Bakersfield College are much worse from Arvin than other communities in Kern, and our levels of poverty and educational attainment are some of the lowest in the county,” said Jennifer Wood-Slayton, Building Healthy Communities South Kern’s manager.

The Arvin Center has already been included in a preliminary list, budgeted at $25 million, and is part of a project list that includes about $400 million in repairs and upgrades to the district's campuses and satellite locations. 

WHAT'S YOUR VOTE WORTH?

Speaking of bond measures, Kern County voters were passing all five school construction bonds on the primary ballot as of Wednesday, bonds totaling more than $90 million for campuses.

Districts with measures were Beardsley, Fairfax, Wasco and General Shafter.

The largest bond, Measure C, would generate $40 million for facilities in the General Shafter School District. It was passing Wednesday with the slimmest margin of all the school measures, with a 55.07 percent voting yes.

Bond measures require 55 percent voter approval.

As of Wednesday, just 69 voters had turned out for that measure, with 31 voting no and 38 yes. Had one more person voted against the bond, it would be losing.

“That almost leaves me speechless,” Kern County Taxpayers Association Executive Director Mike Turnipseed said of the roughly 19 percent voter turnout.

There were 357 total registered voters eligible to cast ballots in that district, according to Kern County Elections Process Supervisor Sarah Webb. 

There's a possibility some mail-in and absentee ballots have not yet been counted, which counts for a lot in a race with such slim margins and so few voters, Webb said.

So how much is your vote worth? For the 69 who turned out in General Shafter, it was about $597,710.

TOP GRAD RATE NOT MCFARLAND

We here at The Grade have been getting hounded to write a story about McFarland High School's stellar graduation rate being tops in Kern County. Other media have widely reported that the school, which served as the backdrop for Kevin Costner's blockbuster film “McFarland, USA,” achieved the highest graduation rate countywide.

That's not exactly true.

A closer look at the numbers shows McFarland High actually came in second to Desert Junior Senior High, a school near Edwards Air Force Base where 91 out of 92 students received diplomas last year. Coincidentally, the school with the lowest graduation rate countywide is just a few miles from there. Here's how they stack up.

Top Five:

1. Desert Jr. Senior High … 98.9%

2. McFarland High … 98.4%

3. Robert F. Kennedy High … 98.2%

4. Taft Union High … 98.1%

5. Delano High … 97.7%

Bottom Five:

1. Abraham Lincoln Alternative … 36.4%

2. Tierra Del Sol Continuation … 59.3%

3. California Virtual Academy, Maricopa ... 60.8%

4. East Bakersfield High … 78.4%

5. Frazier Mountain High … 81.9%

Countywide, 10,931 seniors graduated last year out of the 13,243 in the class, equaling an 82.5 percent graduation rate – a 2.8 percent increase over the 2013-2014 school year.

Harold Pierce covers education for The Californian. He writes in this spot every Thursday. Email him at hpierce@bakersfield.com.

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