Money cannot be more of a concern than the lives of students and faculty occupying buildings every day.
If a fire had erupted in a room inside the 49-year-old Music Building before construction workers discovered major fire hazards in the facility earlier this semester, it could have easily spread throughout the entire structure.
When the contractors built the circular building in 1962 without regard for construction codes, fire and safety hazards in the building went unnoticed by college and district supervisors.
When the building was torn apart in January, workers discovered the original walls and ceilings were not reinforced properly to save students from a fire or an earthquake, which the college should be prepared for as the Hayward Fault runs directly through campus.
As a result of the negligent work, students and faculty members remained oblivious for decades to the dangers of the building.
The district has a habit of waiting for remodeling projects to upgrade potential hazards on campus instead of spending money on immediate problems that could hurt or kill people in the event of an earthquake or a fire.
“It just costs too much,” Contra Costa College Capitol Projects Manager Burl Toler said.
This is not the first time the district has said it values money over lives.
In March 2011, district Chief Facilities Planner Ray Pyle gave The Advocate a similar line after outdated and unmaintained electrical fuses barely saved CCC from being engulfed in flames when crews tried to restore power to the campus after a major outage.
When the power was switched on, students and employees were still on campus and the fuses contained what could have been a small explosion that could have struck a nearby gas line that runs through the campus.
The transformer had not been maintained for years — the fuses went unchecked and rats, both dead and alive, were found inside the unit.
The district knew about the problem before the outage, but chose to ignore it until the next scheduled renovation in order to save costs.
Instead of finding and fixing hazards, the district prefers to let them go unmaintained until a problem arises, all the while branding the college a “premier” institution.
A college can only take that title when its employees, and those representing it at the district, understand the value of the lives and education of students.
District officials still have a chance to find immediate threats, but they will not do so until they see the importance of spending money to prevent disasters instead of waiting for them to happen.