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College of the Desert, PSUSD Team to Launch Temporary COD Palm Springs Campus

PALM SPRINGS, CA — College of the Desert (COD) launches classes at a new Temporary Palm Springs Campus for the college’s Spring Semester that begins in Jan. 29.

The College of the Desert Board of Trustees approved leasing 4.15 acres owned by Palm Springs Unified School District (PSUSD) at 1300 E. Baristo Road, Palm Springs. The campus will feature 11 classrooms and computer labs, as well as administrative, student support and security services.

The PSUSD Board of Education approved the agreement on Nov. 28.

“It has long been College of the Desert’s intention to create a vibrant Palm Springs Campus to provide western Coachella Valley residents greater accessibility to college classes,” said COD Superintendent/President Joel L. Kinnamon, Ed.D. “Thanks to Palm Springs Unified School District, this is a great first step in that direction as we at the college continue to pursue a long-term site at the former Palm Springs Mall at Baristo and Farrell Drive.

“This is a win-win-win for students, College of the Desert and Palm Springs Unified,” Kinnamon said. “Opening these classrooms allows our west valley students to attend classes close to home and work as we acquire, construct and open our permanent campus over the next few years. We look forward to fulfilling our promise to our students and the Palm Springs community.”

The campus site is located on a parcel of Palm Springs Unified School District land that was previously used for a Riverside County Office of Education community education program site and is less than half a mile from the permanent West Valley campus. The lease rate of $15,758.25 per month over 36 months is based on current appraised value.

“PSUSD is pleased to partner with COD as it plans for its permanent campus here in the west valley,” said PSUSD Superintendent of Schools Dr. Sandra Lyon. “Having a Palm Springs temporary campus will serve many of our Palm Springs Unified graduates, and we are excited to be able to lease this property to help COD fulfill this great need.”

“PSUSD has an opportunity to assist College of the Desert in bringing higher education classes to the west side of Coachella Valley in an expedited manner as COD continues its quest to acquire a permanent College of the Desert West Valley Campus located at the former Palm Springs Mall property,” said PSUSD Executive Director of Facilities Planning Julie Arthur.

“The lease offers flexibility allowing PSUSD to offer the land for sale during the temporary lease period and transfer any remaining lease period to new owners if the Board of Education members desire.”

More than 600 students can be served annually at the temporary Palm Springs Campus location while College of the Desert finalizes acquisition and development of the permanent West Valley Campus at the site of the former Palm Springs Mall. 

The permanent West Valley Campus will include a total of about 330,000 square feet to be constructed on roughly 29 acres across five phases. Development of the project site will include the demolition of the existing and largely vacant mall building, site excavation and grading, and other site preparation.

When the first phase of the permanent campus opens, the temporary campus’ modular facilities will be available for relocation and potential use to serve growing enrollment at other campus locations.

Spring semester classes scheduled for the temporary campus include Administration of Justice, Anthropology, Art, Business Management, Computer Information Systems, Communications, English, History, Kinesiology, Math, Music, Political Science, Psychology, Radio-TV and Sociology.

With the launch of the temporary campus, College of the Desert moves closer to realizing its long-term plans for an innovative, permanent Palm Springs Campus that offers courses and focuses on the college’s four academic pillars: Film and Media Arts; Healthcare and Health Services; Sustainable Technology; and Hospitality and Culinary Arts. The full COD Campus will be comprised of academic and support facilities to accommodate an enrollment of about 3,000 full-time equivalent students (FTES) at buildout.

“The City of Palm Springs is gratified the College of the Desert and Palm Springs Unified School District have partnered together to begin educating students on the west end of the Coachella Valley in 2018,” said Palm Springs City Manager David H. Ready. “This is an excellent use of the now-vacant site and we thank them for implementing this collaborative idea.”

Since it opened in 1962, College of the Desert has served more than 125,000 students. The Coachella Valley’s only community college serves more than 15,000 students a year now. That’s about 30 percent more than just five years ago. The school provides nearly 1,300 classes each semester and offers more than 100 degrees and certificates.

In 2016, College of the Desert was the fastest-growing college in California. In May 2017, for the third year running, the college graduated the largest class in its nearly 60-year history.

With that increased demand, the goal is to provide even more for COD students valleywide to meet the current and future needs of the desert economy.

Part of that plan includes providing classes throughout the Coachella Valley, including at COD campuses in Desert Hot Springs, Indio, Mecca/Thermal and, soon, Palm Springs. College of the Desert also offers a wide variety of evening and non-credit courses at Cathedral City, Desert Hot Springs, Palm Springs and Rancho Mirage high schools.

The Desert Community College District Board of Trustees in September 2017 also approved expanding and extending the college's tuition-free plEDGE program now available to all students who graduated from local high schools in Spring 2017 or will graduate in Spring 2018. Each full-time COD student will receive two years of free tuition that's made available through the plEDGE program, which is funded by generous Coachella Valley donors.