A new building could soon house West Hills College’s North District Center in Firebaugh after California lawmakers on Thursday sent a $125 billion budget bill to Gov. Jerry Brown. The one-year state budget plan approved by the state Senate and Assembly included boosts in funding for education and social services.
The North District Center in Firebaugh, which is currently operating out of a 50-year-old former bowling alley, assists about 500 students. The budget plan would push efforts to expand the college’s footprint in the western Fresno County city.
A two-story, 25,000-square-foot building has been on the drawing board since 2008 when voters overwhelmingly passed a local $11.8 million bond measure to support construction. About $6 million has been spent acquiring land. Assembly Bill 97 itself would provide $831,000 for preliminary planning of the project.
Facility and citizens’ advisory committees have frequently met to discuss the project, which the district said has garnered near-unanimous support. The district said the new building would also house a Fresno County library for Firebaugh.
West Hills Community College District spokeswoman Amber Myrick said the new building would bring easier college access to students who live in the city of 8,300 residents in the heart of farm country west of Fresno. She said the area is “underserved” by higher learning institutions. Myrick added that there are plans to bring more science programs once the building is built. The current space used for the North District College Center is “at max capacity,” she said.
West Hills Community College District officials were not immediately available Friday to comment on the expansion plans.