Grand jury recommends community sever ties with Delta
July 14, 2014
By Alex Breitler, Staff Writer
Calaveras County should sever ties with San Joaquin Delta College, that county's civil grand jury has concluded.
Calaveras residents are paying millions into Delta's voter-approved Measure L bond, but the county "has not received the benefits" that were promised, the report says.
Shifting northern Calaveras County into the Yosemite Community College District - southern Calaveras is already within that district's boundaries - would increase the county's electoral strength and give it a more unified voice, the grand jury found.
Dave Tanner, a Calaveras planner who ran unsuccessfully for the Delta College Board of Trustees in 2012, said Calaveras taxpayers are spending $1.5 million to $2 million a year for their share of the $250 million bond, and feel they haven't gotten enough in return.
The 2004 bond listed an "education center" in the Mother Lode as one of many planned improvements. A decade later, no center has been built.
"This sounds terrible, but it's reality," Tanner said. "(Calaveras residents) feel like they're a sugar daddy and they can't afford it. This is not a rich community."
Delta trustee Steve Castellanos, who represents Calaveras County, said the grand jury's report did not recognize a renewed effort to get classes started in the area. Delta officials on Friday announced four classes would be held at Calaveras High School in San Andreas in the fall, and Castellanos said the plan is to further increase course offerings over the next two to three years.
Ultimately, Calaveras students should be able to satisfy their general education requirements there, Delta President Kathy Hart said earlier this week. Hart said Delta's intention is to work with the neighboring Yosemite district to provide the classes students need.
Delta has offered courses in Calaveras County in the past, but the four courses this fall will be the most in "a really long time," Hart said.
"During the budget cuts and the whole recession we really didn't offer much of anything up there," Hart said, adding that she recognized Calaveras residents have "not been pleased with us."
While the grand jury report cites past reports that Delta improperly spent bond money, Delta officials have said there hasn't been enough student demand in Calaveras to justify a brick-and-mortar campus, and that there isn't enough money left to build one anyhow.
Whether Calaveras County could easily divest itself from Delta is unlikely. Tanner admitted that it might require an act of legislation.
The grand jury recommended that the Calaveras County Board of Supervisors "support a legal petition requesting secession" from the college, if such a petition is filed.
Delta trustees will consider a response to the grand jury report at their meeting on Tuesday.
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or email@example.com. Follow him at www.recordnet.com/breitlerblog and on Twitter @alexbreitler.