Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The origins of our college district, Part 2: a proliferation of competing plans

     IN THIS POST: we're going to backtrack a bit.
     It turns out that the relationship between such cities as Tustin, Orange, and Santa Ana have long been tense and troubled. For instance, in the early 60s, Tustinites spoke of Santa Ana's "eastern territorial conquest," something Tustin wasn't going to put up with.
     But by 1961, the Tustin Union High School board were learning about a proposal according to which Tustin, Orange and Santa Ana high school districts "would form an enlarged Central Orange County Junior College district." In some sense, this proposal responded to a County "survey" (the "Allen-Briscoe report") that had revealed that Orange County would experience explosive growth that would, unless steps were taken, completely overwhelm existing junior college districts.
     Hence the notion of a new, bigger district to replace the existing Santa Ana District and which would include any contiguous school districts not yet affiliated with any junior college district. This new district would eliminate Santa Ana College and instead locate a college "on a spacious site somewhere in the center of the Tustin-Orange-Santa Ana areas." (Tustinians figured that Tustin was the obvious central point.)
     How then did the very different mega-district idea (that we spoke of yesterday) arise?
     And how is it that, by 1963, Tustin was pursuing an entirely different plan—a plan to create a South County junior college district (from South County school districts) that would be distinct from the Santa Ana and Orange Coast junior college districts? 
     All will be made clear. —RB

Hollis P. Allen (1895-1980),
coauthor of the 1960
Allen-Briscoe Report
    Yesterday, I described events reported by the Tustin News and the LA Times from early 1963 to late 1965. Today, we’ll backtrack a bit.

     1960. I have before me an editorial in the April 14, 1960, Tustin Times (“New SA Annex Thrust Into No. Tustin Area”). Opining from the perspective of its long-suffering city, the writer—likely Bill Moses—notes the latest instance of Santa Ana’s pursuit of “eastern territorial conquest.” The latter city had just filed “a proposed 872-acre inhabited annexation” inside both Tustin and Orange Unified school districts. The move, if successful (according to proponents of the annex), “would give Santa Ana ‘more area than any other city in Orange County.’”
     Ah, but the fulfillment of such expansionist dreams require the signatures of 25% of the citizens of the desired territories (before the matter can be brought to a vote by the public). In the past, such dastardly attempted Santanian incursions into Tustin had failed. The Tustin News hopes and expects the relevant Tustinites, including both elementary and high school boards of trustees, to push back hard anew.

     1961. About a year later, the Tustin News (“High School Boards Study Area JC Plan,” February 2, 1961) reports the latest deliberations of the Tustin Union High School board. Board members want to learn more about a proposal “by which Tustin, Orange and Santa Ana high school districts would form an enlarged Central Orange County Junior College district,” as per a recommendation by a county “survey” intended to assist in planning for “explosive population growth” and recognition that OC junior colleges are already swamped, studentwise, and will soon be ultra-swamped—i.e., more JCs are needed, and fast. (This new district would gobble up any contiguous high school districts not yet affiliated with any JC district.)
     But wait! Yesterday, I reported an effort, as of April of 1963, by the cities of Tustin, Laguna Beach, and San Juan Capistrano to create a Junior College District for south Orange County (I called it the "South County" district plan). And THAT idea arose in response to a proposal, by the folks of “Orange Coast” and Santa Ana to combine the Santa Ana junior college district with the Orange Coast junior college district—and to expand that entity into the remaining unaffiliated high school districts (namely, those in Orange, Garden Grove, Tustin, San Juan Capistrano, and Laguna Beach).
     For obvious reasons, I called that idea the “imperialist” plan.
     That mega district never did come into being, although the Santa Ana (now Rancho Santiago) and Orange Coast (now Coast) districts did eventually gobble up Orange and Garden Grove. These doings were in some sense inspired by a state law requiring that no high school district remain unaffiliated with a junior college district (by 1967).
     But, boy, do things move fast and get complicated in Orange County! Now we’ve got three distinct “new JC district” proposals flyin’ around: the Tustin/Orange/Santa Ana (TOS) plan, the mega (or “imperialist”) plan, and the south county (SC)” plan (in order of apparent temporal appearance).

     Let’s get back to early 1961 and the Tustin/Orange/Santa Ana (TOS) plan, which appears to be first among the three to arise—and one taken very seriously.
     The Tustin folks are learning about an idea to expand the Santa Ana junior college district to include Orange and Tustin—or is it the creation of a new district that would comprise Santa Ana, Orange, and Tustin? I think it’s the latter, since the county survey also recommended moving the overcrowded Santa Ana College out of its present digs to some place at the “center of the enlarged three-community district.” (The old digs would become a “new” Santa Ana high school.) Again, the proposal is based on a recommendation coming from a county survey meant to help prepare the county for massive population growth and potential disastrous JC swampage:
Figures indicated that mushrooming population growth is swamping junior college facilities in Orange County, which will be totally unable to handle a doubling of students within five years, trebling in 10 years, five-fold jump in 15 years and a 6 ½ fold increase by 1980.
     Wow.
     A “Dr. Hollis Allen of Claremont College” outlined the new report:
[Allen] cited 20-year projections of junior college growth—from the present full-time equivalent of 6500 students to an estimated 36,000 by 1980 in Orange County—not including nearly three-times more of part-time and evening students.
     Gotta create a new (appointed) board of trustees, said the County Superintendent. They’d develop the “new college organization and acquisition of site, followed at the next school election by choosing of trustees living in wards to give area representation.”
     Given the looming swampage emergency, said the Super, Tustin and Orange should
request the Santa Ana trustees to petition the [OC] Board of Supervisors to call a public hearing. The supervisors then would decide whether to authorize the new district.
Then “voter approval would be required for financing the enlarged district.” About $12,000,000 would pay for facilities for 4000 full-time students
and up to $20,000,000 for 8000 students. The proposed new district will reach the 4000 figure by 1970 and the 8000 total by 1980. The Allen-Briscoe report estimated $24,000,000 would be needed for the 20-year development on two sites but cited the vast area to share the cost equitably.
     Ah, the Allen-Briscoe report! (Produced by Hollis Allen of Claremont and William Briscoe of UCLA.) More about that later. The article explains that, according to the report,
     Orange County will require 10 junior college campuses by 1980.
     Less than half the people in Orange County live within junior college districts, thus have no representation in administering the colleges their children attend.
* * *
     A month later (“College District,” March 2, 1961), the Tustin Times reports that a (requested) state action has excluded “Santa Ana Junior College from the soon-to-be-unified Santa Ana school system.” This
cleared the way for the proposed formation of a central Orange County junior college district, including Tustin, Orange and Santa Ana [i.e. TOS].
     Sen. John Murdy sponsored the bill, effective immediately, which keeps the junior college as a separate district….
     Trustees of the three high school areas are studying the advantages of an enlarged junior college district and the recommended relocation of the college on a spacious site somewhere in the center of the Tustin-Orange-Santa Ana areas. Tustin would have trustee representation on the new governing board.
     And so we see that, in the early months of 1961, at least as far as the Tustin crowd is concerned, it’s full-speed-ahead on the TOS plan. How was it that that plan was eclipsed by the “Imperial” plan? And just when did Tustin (et al.) decide to blow off that plan in favor of the “South County” plan, aka, “FU, we deserve a community college of our own”?

     See also Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, and Part 6.


Tustin News, May 27, 1965

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