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Rancho Bernardo campus scheduled to open Fall 2017

As the slew of continuous construction ensues on campus, Palomar College is establishing new outposts within its district.

Ahead of the North Education Center in Fallbrook, the South Education Center in Rancho Bernardo is gearing up for primetime and establishing its staffing and educational needs, according to Palomar officials.

The center is planned to open for classes in Fall Semester 2017 with an overall budget of $34 million, according to Chris Miller, the director of facilities at Palomar. Once the plans are finalized, construction will begin at the end of 2015 or the beginning of 2016.

“We don’t want to build too soon where (the center) sits vacant or too late where there is a rush at the end,” Miller said.

The building, located off Interstate 15 and Rancho Bernardo Road, was originally built as a business building with an existing parking structure.

The building sat vacant and because Palomar officials couldn’t find a parcel of land big enough to meet their needs within the southern portion of the district, they took on the 26 acre lot to make it into an educational facility, according to President Robert Deegan.

“We came across this building and we thought, let’s think outside the box. Instead of a traditional campus that’s spreads out, we’ll go up,” Deegan said.

There are four floors for the new center. The first floor will consist of student services as well as a community room to accommodate 150 people. The community room will create a space to hold events for the school and the surrounding community. The second and third floor will hold classrooms, faculty offices and lab rooms. The fourth floor will hold additional classes as well as a library that overlooks majestic views of the area.

Palomar needs that building to serve the needs of its southern region. While classes are offered at Mount Carmel High School, it is not enough.

About 8 percent of Palomar’s student body comes from the Poway area and increased traffic on Interstate 15 has made it harder for those students to come to Palomar’s main campus, Deegan said. Palomar has also seen a significant loss in student enrollment from 8 to 6 percent, he added.

“We just want to have more of a presence in that southern area to meet the needs of the community of that area of our district,” Deegan said.

Classes that are scheduled for the center will be traditional general education courses.

“A student who chooses to attend there can take all of their general education courses for an associates degree, for transfer to a CSU or to transfer to a UC,” Deegan said.

It will also offer technical courses designed to meet the job needs of the local community as well as basic skill courses, he added.

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Rancho Bernardo campus scheduled to open Fall 2017