College of the Desert’s Board of Trustees is reviewing its strategic master plan for the next 5 years and under the backdrop of transparency concerns, also continued worries about its resolve to build long-planned west valley campuses.
“Yes, we reaffirm our commitment," said COD Trustee Fred Jandt.
Administrators are laying out the framework for renewing a road map of sorts detailing where they want to be in the future and with directions on how best to get there.
The Board of Trustees was also set to reaffirm COD's commitment to building educational projects throughout the Coachella Valley. A board resolution, however, fell flat for some.
“There’s not one piece of data in this resolution we citizens can hold the board of trustees to its promises,” said Ginny Float, a former Palm Springs City Councilmember, who called into the meeting.
Aftab Dada, of the Hilton Hotel in Palm Springs and Chairman of PS Resorts, also called into the meeting to say, “Build the promised Palm Springs hospitality school now." Aftab continued, "I urge College of the Desert to fulfill the promises made to Coachella Valley voters and students to build the Palm Springs COD campus including the promised hospitality school program.”
The Board of Trustees scrapped a study session on the matter earlier this month over transparency concerns and whether enough public notice had been given ahead of that January 7 meeting.
Another caller during the public comment period, Bruce Hoban, criticized the board’s claims of transparency. “We ask for back information on how decisions are made. We get nothing," Hogan complained.
No votes were taken as the board heard presentations on how to use bond money for campus development and educational goals. COD’s mission, vision, and values, also five-year strategic objectives, will all be evaluated and renewed.
In a bond presentation, COD Bond Program Manager Mac McGinnis restated a campus will be built in Palm Springs. But its development was slowed due to changes with culinary, hotel, and accelerator concepts.
The Roadrunner Motors Automotive Repair School will also be built, according to McGinnis. But not necessarily in its original Cathedral City site. Indio has jumped into the competition with a site near the freeway. Cathedral City has also offered COD a dozen other alternative sites it hopes to see the learning center built on.
“Right now the project budget would increase by nearly 70 percent at the current site just due to complications at the site and surrounding city," McGinnis said. He cited the need for additional grading to remove soil placed there by neighboring auto dealers while building their own lots, extensive retaining walls, additional land, and city easements for flood control.
I-Team investigator Jeff Stahl looked into COD’s most recent strategic plan.
The 2016 effort stated a mission to provide excellent educational programs and services, also goals of transparency in planning and governance, and community partnerships providing outstanding enrichment opportunities. They were all in the name of creating successful students and community vitality.
Joel L. Kinnamon was COD's president at the time. Jeff Stahl spoke to the school's current president, Dr. Martha Garcia, for his recent I-Team investigation into West Valley campus commitments in Palm Springs and Cathedral City. When asked about who dropped the ball on the commitments, she responded, "It wasn't me."
But Garcia said she thought building plans were already approved when she took the job only to find they were not.
The next steps of this 2022 plan, now on Garcia's watch, a winter retreat to be followed by community feedback and strategizing this spring, followed by recommendations. Then finally an approved strategic master plan by fall
A trustee survey is due on Jan. 31 and that final plan is expected by this fall.
Stay with News Channel 3 for continuing updates.
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