Cuyamaca College awarded $2.6 million grant to raise achievement among Hispanic students

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            Comm Arts buildingHispanic students at Cuyamaca College will soon see a significant boost in efforts aimed at guiding them toward obtaining certificates and degrees and transferring to four-year colleges and universities, thanks to a nearly $2.6-million, five-year federal grant.

            The grant is funded through the U.S. Department of Education’s Developing Hispanic-Serving Institutions Program, a program assisting Hispanic Serving Institutions such as Cuyamaca College to expand educational opportunities and improve academic achievement.

Hispanic Serving Institutions are colleges or universities where Hispanics make up at least 25 percent of the school’s students and that have adopted strategies to help first-generation, low-income Latino students. Nearly one in three of the about 9,000 students at Cuyamaca College are Latino.

            “It is exciting for the college to implement this kind of grant and these kind of programs that will greatly benefit our students,” said Scott Thayer, Cuyamaca College’s vice president of student services. “Cuyamaca College is committed to doing everything possible to make sure our students succeed.”

            The grant will fund a new program dubbed The Pathway Academy, a student success effort containing the following strategies:

·         Minimizing the time students spend in remedial classes that are known among academics as basic skills or developmental courses. Studies have shown that every added basic skills class a student is required to take reduces his or her chances of graduating.

·         Expanding student support services for Hispanic students, including creating clear roadmaps detailing what a student must do to complete his or her educational goals.

·         Professional development for all faculty and staff, including workshops and training that provide instructors with the latest research on best practices in student success strategies.

The Pathway Academy is intended to help close the achievement gap between Hispanic students and other groups. The rate at which Hispanic students complete their courses at Cuyamaca College is 38.7 percent, 10 percent lower than the completion rate of other students.

            The effectiveness of the program will be measured through increased persistence, course completion, remedial progress rates and the numbers of students earning degrees and certificates and transferring to four-year colleges and universities.

            Thayer noted that the Pathway Academy builds upon a number of related efforts at Cuyamaca College that have been implemented in recent years, including the First Year Experience, a comprehensive program designed to assist and guide students through their first year in college.

            In September 2015, Grossmont College received a similar five-year federal grant for $2.62 million to fund a program aimed at helping Hispanic students succeed. The grant funds are being used to develop a program called Via Rápida, which assists with outreach, assessment and accelerated programs for Hispanic students.

Cuyamaca College’s grant is the second major award provided to the college this year to boost student success. Cuyamaca secured a $1.5 million state grant in May that expands on the college’s innovative programs to dramatically reduce the remedial pipeline and better prepare students for college level coursework. The Basic Skills and Student Outcomes Transformation Program grant will enable Cuyamaca College to significantly reduce the number of students forced into remedial education courses.

Cuyamaca College had already developed programs that are significantly reducing remedial education requirements in English, math, and ESL for certain groups of underprepared students and English-language learners, and those students are successfully completing college-level English and math courses at significantly higher rates and in much less time.

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College district board approves $348 million measure to support affordable college, job training, campus repair and veteran support

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Anne Krueger

Communications and Public Information Director

Grossmont-Cuyamaca College District

A $348 million bond measure was approved Tuesday by the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board, responding to community demands for a workforce center that will train East County’s future employees for critically-needed jobs.

Funds from the proposed bond, which will appear on the November 8 ballot for more than 230,000 registered East County voters, will also be used to address needs for veterans’ centers to assist former and active-duty military and to improve facilities and update classrooms at the Grossmont and Cuyamaca college campuses, serving more than 28,000 students.

“Our board members saw a crucial need for an East County center that will provide students and existing workers skills they need for the rapidly-changing economy,” said Bill Garrett, president of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District Governing Board. “This bond measure will provide for an innovative economic development hub in East County to provide customized training for local businesses, workforce readiness, and career-technical education leading to skilled employment and industry certifications.”

The bond measure, which is being sought under the provisions of Proposition 39, requires approval by at least 55 percent of the votes cast. The district will not use bond funds for any operations, administrator salaries, or employee pensions, and will continue an independent citizens’ oversight panel to assure accountability for the use of all funds and annual audits to ensure funds are spent only as authorized.

Chancellor Cindy L. Miles said more students and their families are relying on local community colleges such as Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges now that the cost of attending a California public university is at least six times as much as a community college. “In today’s competitive job environment, community colleges must continue to provide training and education for East County residents and veterans reentering the workforce,” Miles said.

The two community colleges serve more than 1,300 veterans, with counselors and staff specifically assigned to work with them and provide support, financial aid resources, and referrals to outside agencies. The bond will allow the colleges to attract more veterans by expanding facilities and access to job training and support services to help them reenter the civilian workforce.

In addition to the need for a workforce training center, both community colleges have buildings that are decaying after decades of use with classrooms and labs falling behind current and future student learning demands. Both colleges have targeted high-need facilities that would be constructed or repaired with money from the bond measure.

These include an instructional complex at Grossmont College to replace outdated classroom buildings that have been used for more than 50 years, and a multidisciplinary classroom building at Cuyamaca College that would replace aged-out learning facilities and add much-needed math and science labs. Other critical projects support safety and security (alarms and fire systems), sustainability (alternative energy and water use reduction), as well as emergency communication systems and community/disabled student access.

The college district has served East County since 1961, when Grossmont College first began accepting students before moving to a 135-acre site in El Cajon three years later. Cuyamaca College opened in 1978 at a 165-acre site in Rancho San Diego.

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$1.9 Million Grant Awarded to the City of La Mesa

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La Mesa – The City of La Mesa was recently approved for a $1,919,000 grant through the California Transportation Commission (CTC) Active Transportation Program (ATP) to fund pedestrian and bicyclist safety enhancements in west La Mesa. The grant will provide improved connectivity to parks, local schools and access to the future Boys and Girls Club (Brady Family Clubhouse).

Improvements will include opening and extending Junior High Drive to Lowell Street and a midblock crossing with pedestrian rapid flashing beacons and in-pavement flashers connecting La Mesa Arts Academy to Helix Charter High School. Improved access will be provided to Windsor Hills Community Church located next to the future Boys and Girls Club site. Additionally, new sidewalks, bulb outs, ADA ramps, high visibility crosswalks, bike racks, pedestrian lighting, 1.3 miles of new bicycle lanes on University Avenue, and 3.5 miles of improved bicycle routes with sharrow markings will be installed. “Sharrows” (shared roadway bicycle markings) help remind motorists to share the road with bicyclists. The project is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2016 and complete in 2019.

This $1.9 million grant coincides with fundraising campaign by the Boys & Girls Club of East County Foundation to fund the construction of a new 25,000 square facility on the campus of La Mesa Arts Academy in the La Mesa-Spring Valley School District. The future Brady Family Clubhouse will feature a learning center, computer lab, crafts room, outdoor playground, kitchen, multipurpose room and the Bill Walton Gymnasium, named after NBA Hall of Famer. The Clubhouse will provide
a safe haven for children 5-18 every day after school and during the summer months.

This effort is part of an ongoing emphasis by the City of La Mesa to provide upgrades in West La

Mesa. Most recently SDG&E undergrounded the utility poles on Normal Avenue.

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From the El Cajon Police Department: Check Before You Step

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Throughout San Diego County, motor vehicle collisions involving pedestrians are on the rise. Statistics have shown that in many of these collisions, the pedestrian was determined to be at-fault.

The El Cajon Police Department has again implemented their “Check Before You Step” program.  This program is designed to educate the public about pedestrian safety. The El Cajon Police department would like to remind everyone to take pedestrian safety seriously.  It is everyone’s responsibility.

The age old myth that pedestrians always have the right of way could not be further from the truth. Pedestrians must follow the same rules of the road as the motorists.   We all share the roadway and must do so responsibly.

Here are some helpful pedestrian safety tips:

1. Avoid wearing dark colored clothing at night. If you know you will be walking around at night, try to wear light colored clothing to make yourself more visible to motorists.


2. Do not cross the street between two controlled intersections. This is referred to as “Jaywalking”, and puts you in areas where motorists are not expecting pedestrians.


3. Always use designated crosswalks and wait for the appropriate symbol which allows you to cross. Crossing against a red hand is unsafe and against the law.


4. Look both ways before crossing the street.


5. Don’t cross the street unless you can do so safely. When crossing the street outside of a crosswalk, pedestrians MUST yield to oncoming vehicles.


6. Be aware of headlights from oncoming vehicles.


7. Walk with a purpose when crossing. Spend as little time as necessary in the actual roadway.


8. Do not assume the motorist sees you. Motorists are focused on many potential hazards along the roadway and may not see you until it is too late.


Let’s work together to make our roadways safer!

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Downtown El Cajon Business Partners Holiday Lights on Main

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Santee Making Spirits Bright draws thousands to activities and Christmas tree lighting

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Photo by Albert H. Fulcher A personal visit with Santa was a main attraction at Santee Making Spirits Bright at Santee Trolley Square on Nov. 20.

Photo by Albert H. Fulcher
A personal visit with Santa was a main attraction at Santee Making Spirits Bright at Santee Trolley Square on Nov. 20.
















Photo by Albert H. Fulcher Ambassadors Miss Santee 2015 Rebecca Hudson and Miss Teen Santee Heather Cantin interacting with the local community.

Photo by Albert H. Fulcher
Ambassadors Miss Santee 2015 Rebecca Hudson and Miss Teen Santee Heather Cantin interacting with the local community.














Photo by Albert H. Fulcher Santee Fire & Rescue was on hand at Santee Making Spirits bright and a popular destination for children to see the fire truck and meet a firefighter.

Photo by Albert H. Fulcher
Santee Fire & Rescue was on hand at Santee Making Spirits bright and a popular destination for children to see the fire truck and meet a firefighter.















Photo by Albert H. Fulcher

Photo by Albert H. Fulcher













Photo by Albert H. Fulcher Friends gather to get their photos taken with the characters of “Frozen,” one of the many “celebrity star-shots” available for the evening’s events.

Photo by Albert H. Fulcher
Friends gather to get their photos taken with the characters of “Frozen,” one of the many “celebrity star-shots” available for the evening’s events.












Photo by Albert H. Fulcher With many activities for children, the Frosty the Snowman jump house was center stage and a popular attraction at Santee Making Spirits Bright on Nov. 20.

Photo by Albert H. Fulcher
With many activities for children, the Frosty the Snowman jump house was center stage and a popular attraction at Santee Making Spirits Bright on Nov. 20.











Photo by Albert H. Fulcher Thousands crowded the Santee Trolley Square amphitheater for the turning on of the 20-foot Christmas tree. The celebration was officiated by Mayor Randy Voepel and council members.

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Save El Monte Valley

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Save El Monte Valle

Illustration by Ariel J. Fulcher

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Cuyamaca, Grossmont colleges offering eight-week classes starting Oct. 12

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Interested in earning college credit in just two months from Grossmont or Cuyamaca colleges?

Eight-week courses beginning the week of Oct. 12  are a great way to pick up general education or subject-specialty classes in less time, but at the same affordable cost of regular semester-length classes. The classes ending Dec. 7 offer from one to five credits at a cost of $46 per unit. They consist of traditional, online and hybrid classes, which require both in-classroom and online attendance.

For students looking to complete general education course requirements, classes offered include Introduction to Physical Anthropology, History of Jazz Music, History of Rock Music, Interpersonal Communication, English Fundamentals, Modern American History, Principles of Humanities, Introduction to Philosophy, Spanish, College Composition and Reading, Public Speaking, Intermediate Algebra, English as a Second Language and more.

Other courses offer specialized training and instruction such as Grossmont College’s Culinary Arts classes in food purchasing, bread making and chocolate preparation, and Nursing program classes in nursing pharmacology and neurologic and psychiatric nursing. Cuyamaca College’s specialized courses include Water/Wastewater Technology classes in water conservation and water treatment plant operations and the Ornamental Horticulture program’s urban forestry class.

Business office training is available in online, self-paced courses such as Keyboard/Document Processing, and Using Microsoft Outlook. Students can also improve how they learn by enrolling in Study Skills and Time Management or find help in their educational and career paths in College and Career Success and Transfer Success.

Lists of class offerings at Grossmont and Cuyamaca  are posted online at

Grossmont College is located at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon. Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in the community of Rancho San Diego. College applications and online registration are available at  and

The deadline for registering is Oct. 16.


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Padre Dam Recognized as “District of Distinction”

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Padre Dam Municipal Water District received the “District of Distinction” accreditation by the Special District Leadership Foundation (SDLF) for its sound fiscal management policies and practices in district operations.

Padre Dam is one of only 26 special districts in California to hold this accreditation. The District of Distinction recognition is awarded to special districts that display achievements in the areas of governance, transparency, finances, and board conduct.The District’s Board of Directors and executive staff must show proof of educational training in public governance, as well as compliance with ethics and harassment prevention training as part of the qualifications for the accreditation.

“The Board of Directors take great pride in receiving the District of Distinction recognition,” comments Doug Wilson, Padre Dam Board President, “We are dedicated to ensuring our customers receive the highest quality of service. This accreditation signifies success in providing high level service.”

“SDLF provides an independent audit review of the last three years of Padre Dam’s operations to ensure prudent fiscal practices,” said Neil McCormick, SDLF Chief Executive Officer. The committee members who review the audits are volunteers from the special district community, including district controllers, directors of finance and certified general managers.

In order to receive the recognition, Padre Dam’s website must include posting transparency requirements, including: election procedure and deadlines, posted board meeting schedule and agendas, current district budget, most recent financial audit, and a link to the State Controller’s website with compensation data for board members and staff.

Padre Dam Municipal Water District provides water, wastewater, recycled water and recreation services to close 100,000 residents in the San Diego suburbs of Santee, El Cajon, Lakeside, Flinn Springs, Harbison Canyon, Blossom Valley, Alpine, Dehesa and Crest. The District imports 100% of its treated water supply and treats two million gallons per day (PGD) of wastewater at the Ray Stoyer Water Recycling Facility.

SDLF is an independent, non-profit organization formed to promote good governance and best practices among California’s special districts through certification, accreditation and other recognition programs.


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Grossmont, Cuyamaca colleges begin fall semester with more classes, students

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The new semester begins Aug. 17 for more than 28,000 students at Grossmont and Cuyamaca colleges with the continuing trend of additional class offerings and higher enrollment at the two East County colleges.

The two colleges are offering more than 2,400 class sections this year, almost 5 percent more than last fall. Enrollment at Grossmont is expected at about 19,000 students, up 4 percent from 2014, while enrollment at Cuyamaca College is projected at about 9,200 students, a 5 percent increase.

Students still have the opportunity to register for fall classes, with the colleges continuing online registration through Aug. 16. Schedules and registration links are available at

“We are continuing to recover from the recession with increased funding and we are looking forward to a great year as we keep focused on improving student success,” said Cindy L. Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District.

Among Grossmont College’s offerings this fall are three new associate degrees for transfer in economics, English and Spanish, bringing to 17 the total number of transfer degrees that provide community college students guaranteed admission in the California State University system. Cuyamaca College offers the associate degrees for transfer in 16 majors, including Spanish, added for the fall semester.

Grossmont College is starting the semester with a new president, Nabil Abu-Ghazaleh, formerly president of West Los Angeles College. He started at the El Cajon college in July.  At Cuyamaca College, Wei Zhou is serving as interim president, with the announcement of a new president expected this fall.

Physical improvements will be evident, with resurfaced parking lots and road repairs and at both campuses. At Grossmont College, new drought-tolerant landscaping with fruitless olive trees and rocks along the perimeter road will reduce water use and maintenance costs. At Cuyamaca College, a new weight facility was added for body building and conditioning classes.

To welcome new and returning students, both colleges have several activities planned for the first week of classes. Grossmont’s Week of Welcome – WOW – features workshops and information booths highlighting programs and an All-campus Information and Activity Fair in the Main Quad. Cuyamaca’s Welcome Week will include information tables; a Health and Wellness Center resource fair; a meet-and-greet and free lunch for student veterans; an open house of the Student Services One-stop Center; Ping-Pong, Wii games, pizza and ice cream sundaes with student government members; a Student Organization Involvement Fair; and a workshop on preventing relationship violence.

 Grossmont College is at 8800 Grossmont College Drive in El Cajon; Cuyamaca College is at 900 Rancho San Diego Parkway in the community of Rancho San Diego. For more information about the college district, go to

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