Project Synergy, 9-16+: A National Education Model for Success

Article excerpt

Introduction

Throughout its 13 years of operation, the Southwestern College Education Center at San Ysidro (SCEC, SY) has served as a gateway to higher education for the residents of the most southerly areas of the District. Today, student enrollment is more than 2,000, which requires that the existing facility operate at 160 percent of capacity. More than 130 course offerings are now available at the seven-classroom facility along with administrative and student support services.

The campus along the border was dedicated on November 10, 1988. The educational center was dedicated to the 21 victims who were shot by a sole gunman at a McDonalds fast food facility. This later became known as the San Ysidro massacre. In 1988 the Southwestern Community College District (SCCD) dedicated the facility along with a memorial structure that comprises 21 hexagonal pillars, in memory of the 21 victims.

When the center was established in 1988, 300 students enrolled in 33 courses. The local community's demand for accessible and affordable higher education continued to increase and after only two years of operation, the center outgrew its present facility, which was designed to serve less than 1,000.

Expansion of Southwestern College presence onto the new and developing Otay Mesa was the next step. Plans that have created. Project Synergy is a collaborative effort between the Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD), San Diego State University (SDSU), South County businesses and industry, and Southwestern College (SWC). Plans are also underway to include Centro de Ensenanza Tecnica y Superior (CETYS Universidad), a university from Mexico, to truly take advantage of the unique cross-border partnerships, which dominate this region's economic development. These linkages will create integrated, seamless educational and work experience for students.

Southwestern Community College District (SCCD), San Diego State University (SDSU), and Sweetwater Union High School District (SUHSD) are working together to design a full-service education complex in Otay Mesa. While maintaining the existing San Ysidro site, the College is proceeding with Master Planning the entire site, and planning the initial phase of this project. Phase One would include 40,000 square feet of classroom building with approximately 1,600 parking spaces. This would serve approximately 3,500 students (head count) by its anticipated completion in the first quarter of 2003. The Otay Mesa Education Center will grow to accommodate approximately 10,000 students by the year 2010.

The curriculum strands proposed include Computer Science/Technology, Border Issues, Teacher Education, Business Administration (International), and Criminal Justice/Social Work. Students would be able to receive bachelor's and master's degrees from San Diego State University and certificates and associate degrees from Southwestern College. Southwestern College is targeting degree programs in Manufacturing Engineering, Biotechnology, Biopharmaceuticals, and Computer Sciences.

Need

Project Synergy began as a result of the enrollment demands at all three educational institutions, i.e., SUHSD, SCCD, and SDSU. Each of the institutions projected that enrollment capacity was at about 90%. The Southern Region of San Diego is presently the fastest growing area in the state of California. The SUHSD has reported enrollment increases of 1,100 students per year for the next 10 years based on the number of students enrolled in grades K-8.

SWC annually enrolls approximately 55% of all high school graduates from SUHSD. More specifically, enrollment projections indicate that the number of full time equivalent students (FTES) will increase by 12,107 in year 2010. Hence, the enrollment in year 2000 of 13,479 FTES will increase to 25,586 FTES by year 2010. These figures were reviewed and approved by the California Department of Finance (DOF) and the California Postsecondary Education Commission (CPEC), and the San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG). …