Daily Journal local education generic logo

Thousands attending San Mateo County Community College District schools want student housing built on local campuses, according to a survey going before the school board.

Trustees will weigh Thursday, Sept. 3, a report from The Scion Group, which claims a significant amount of those enrolled in the district would be interested in student housing — particularly on the College of San Mateo campus.

The board approached the issue last summer, when officials examined opportunities to address concerns among the student body regarding the cost of living locally. Former chancellor Ron Galatolo favored student housing, suggesting it is preferable to proposed legislation allowing students to stay in their cars overnight on parking lots. Officials at the time expressed some interest in the proposal, while preferring to advance deliberately. The district has about 100 housing units available to district teachers spread throughout its three campuses.

No decision is slated to be made at the meeting, but officials will review the report which tracks student interest in student housing, while also laying out a variety of potential financing strategies for building the facilities.

The most popular place to build student housing is at the College of San Mateo, where the survey showed demand for roughly 2,000 beds among single students and those with families, according to the report. Interest levels increased even further when the survey suggested the housing would be listed at below-market rates, according to the responses from 2,551 students.

“Based on survey data, 74% of students across the district expressed some level of willingness … to live on campus if housing was located at CSM compared to Skyline (60%) and Cañada (56%),” said the report.

The desire to live on campus is driven by the dearth of affordable housing locally, as well as long commutes to campuses, said the report, which suggested the availability of housing could attract new students as well.

“Nearly all students believed that housing is important for recruiting and retaining future students,” said the survey, which also suggested 40% of students had considered leaving school due to the cost of living.

Should officials ultimately pursue student housing, the survey report suggested a public and private partnership would likely be the most sensible approach.

“Compared to self-funded projects and private developer projects, the [private-public partnership] delivery option offers a ‘middle-ground’ with risk, cost and control,” said the report.

The Scion Group is North America’s largest private student housing company, according to the website, which claims it owns and operates over 58,000 beds across 38 states plus Mexico and Canada.

Noting the company’s stake in the student housing industry, San Mateo resident Maxine Terner questioned the neutrality of Scion’s report. A frequent critic of the district’s spending on facilities, Terner urged officials in an email to hold off on any potential pursuit of the initiative, citing the uncertainty brought by the pandemic.

For his part, district Vice Chancellor Mitch Bailey defended the decision to hire The Scion Group, noting the company has helped many other districts throughout the Bay Area examine the feasibility of building student housing.

Furthermore, he noted officials are not bound to the proposal and instead are only considering the issue.

“No decisions on building student housing have been made and no recommendations have been made about proceeding with any potential development. This is the information gathering and sharing phase of the process,” he said in an email.

The San Mateo County Community College District Board of Trustees meets 6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3. Visit https://smccd.zoom.us/j/95302220282 to join, or call (669) 900-9128 and enter 953 0222 0282.

(650) 344-5200 ext. 105

Recommended for you

(3) comments

Michael B. Reiner, PhD

Only 18% of SMCCCD's first-time full-time students (traditional high school graduates starting college) graduate with their AA degree (thereby making them eligible to transfer to CSU or UC) in three years for a two-year degree. 

Four-out-of-five students do not graduate on time! The results are worse for Hispanic and Filipino students who comprise almost half the student population. Parents, is this a good investment of your hard earned dollars to help your children succeed? Taxpayers, are bond measures to finance more buildings a good investment of your money?

Will providing dorms improve that statistic, solve the problem of the achievement gap, and facilitate transfer to university? (oh wait, that was the rationale for building CSU-Cañada, a plan that was sunk by CSU's independent feasibility study).

Here we go again.


See Mark Simon's comments about WalletHub, SMCCD and WalletHub's overall #3 ranking of College of San Mateo for Best Community Colleges int he US https://www.smdailyjournal.com/opinion/columnists/notes-quotes-and-dust-motes/article_aac89ec0-ed80-11ea-b69c-cf1c7b69f1a4.html

Michael B. Reiner, PhD

Thanks Laurie. I am aware of that report. I think it's more complicated than just looking at an overall ranking. I analyzed it and replied to Mark's article:

Mark, my friend, you are a journalist and like to look at headlines. In part, you may be biased as you were among the first to attend Skyline College and it served you well. I am pleased about that. I am an education researcher and examine evidence and data.

First, rankings are meaningless unless the criteria and metrics are significant. US News & World Reports university ranking system has been criticized for years. I do like WalletHubs variable of "Educational Outcomes": First-Year Retention Rate, Graduation Rate, Transfer-Out Rate, Credentials Awarded per 100 Full-Time-Equivalent Students, Student-Faculty Ratio, Share of Full-Time Faculty, Presence of Special Learning Opportunities, Presence of Credit for Life Experiences (https://wallethub.com/edu/e/best-worst-community-colleges/15076/#methodology).

The College of San Mateo ranked 307 out of 650 institutions on educational outcomes... Is that something you are proud of?

I could go on with a further explanation of the other variables and how they sum to override the poor showing on Educational Outcomes, but why bother. You have a habit of "denigrating" people who question what is happening at SMCCCD (you stated, "I think it’s an outstanding system with gorgeous facilities," as if that is a significant factor. I am amazed that you prefer the cover to the book).

Similarly, the Board of Trustees may wish to ignore reality for the image you and others appear to have found appealing. I made a request to address the Board in December to discuss data. It was ignored. I wrote to them in January to remind them of my request. It was ignored. I wrote a third time in March and Trustee Mandelkern responded by calling me "tone deaf" for failing to see the Board was struggling with a pandemic! If the Board had responded initially, I guess I wouldn't have had to ask three times.

My question to the Board was, "Why have you ignored educational outcomes for so long?" Four-out-of-five students (First-TIme Full-TIme) do not graduate in three years for a two-year degree. Why is that? I've yet to be provided an answer, though my research provides potential directions to address this inequity.

If you wish to discuss this further, feel free to contact me:


Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District. mreiner32205@gmail.com  LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-b-reiner-phd-14057551/

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!