Participatory Budgeting designates $50K for campus upgrades

By Jose Valenzuela
Pulse Staff Reporter

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Participatory budgeting is a way to let students, faculty and staff make decisions on what the school should spend its money on.

“We are the only community college in the United States doing participatory budgeting (PB),” said Anthony Perez, the college coordinator of high school programs.

Palo Alto College (PAC) set aside $50,000 that will be split between student organizations as well as faculty and staff projects that were brainstormed on February 4, 2016, and planned on Feb. 9 and 10. The finalists were voted on April 13 and 14 and will be implemented Sept. 1, 2016, through July 7, 2017.

“As these projects are built up, the staff projects and the student ones, we will be able to see people using them and enjoying them and enhancing our campus,” said Perez

The projects that won for faculty and staff for the 2016-2017 academic school year include:

  1. Water Play Station: Ray Ellison Family Center will build a unique natural playscape for the children that will include water play.
  2. Student Support Center: This project will support phone, email and social media initiatives focused on enrolling, retaining, persisting and graduating students from Palo Alto College.
  3. Lunch & Learn: This pproject will offer students, faculty and staff an alternative to the traditional indoor classroom or conference room.
  4. Outdoor LED Sign and Stand for REFC: These signs are an efficient use of space and a great choice to use for things, such as: time and temperature, special events, interior/exterior sporting, and gaming applications. This type of sign will help the center with enrollment through advertisement.
  5. Scannable Digital Library Wallpaper: The Ozuna Library proposes launching a new leisure e-book collection, which will be made accessible through a new digital wallpaper bookshelf service so students that can easily access the library’s proposed leisure e-book collection by browsing the titles on the digital bookshelf.
  6. PAC Athletic Custom Chairs: This project will provide the PAC community with custom athletic chairs that will enhance PAC pride during events, such as sports games, graduation, honors ceremony, convocation and other college functions.

The eight projects that won for student organizations include:

  1. Zen Garden: This garden will provide students a place to retreat and relax in between classes while on campus.
  2. Revival of the Butterfly Garden: The butterfly garden will provide a one-of-a-kind experience to students and the PAC community. It will include an outdoor laboratory to interact with nature.
  3. Relax, Reflect and Refresh: This project will provide outdoor furniture that will give students and staff an opportunity to finish work, socialize, and study while on campus.
  4. Water Fountain Upgrades: This will include renovations to water fountains, which will provide students clean, filtered water.
  5. PAC Map Track: This project will create a new track that will go around the whole campus that will include color-coordinated paths for different levels of runners (beginner, intermediate and expert).
  6. Eco-friendly Water Dispensers: This will provide students upgraded water fountains that will be able to refill empty water bottles, cups or containers with fresh clean water.
  7. Private Student Courtyard: Students will enjoy brightly colored furniture, which will include small work tables, foot stools and chairs in the courtyard. This will give students, staff and faculty a place on campus to gather, study or socialize.
  8. Palomino Transportation Shelter: Students with disabilities will enjoy a bus stop designed for them to shelter themselves while waiting for their bus.

Carmen Velasquez, Palo Alto’s advising team lead, said, “This is a great way to get students and faculty to spend more time on campus.”

Student Participatory Budgeting also has students excited about their turn to have a say in how the school uses money.

Aricela Mendez, a PAC freshman Public Relations major, said, “I think that the participatory budgeting is a good investment because all that money is just sitting there and not being used, so might as well use it to better the school. Besides, this is an awesome way to get students involved and let us have a say on what the school spends its money.”

For more information on Palo Alto’s Participatory Budgeting, visit this website.