Organizers of the Santa Barbara Unified School District’s $54-per-parcel tax campaign fought hard to get the two-thirds voter approval required to fund $16 million worth of student programs over the next four years, but fell short Tuesday night.
Measure X, for the elementary schools, got 65 percent approval, while Measure W, for secondary schools in both Santa Barbara and Goleta, garnered 64.3 percent approval. Both needed 66.7 percent of the vote to pass.
The two reasons they didn’t pass were the amount of funding the measures required and the election’s timing, said Lynn Rodriguez, Santa Barbara Education Foundation board president.
“They did pretty well, but we’re sad to lose,” she said. “The message will be that they are worth bringing back in November. The question is why they didn’t pass. There will be analysis of the precincts and what happened, but one of the issues could be the amount, and we all knew June would be challenging.”
The measures would have replaced 2008’s Measures H and I, which fund smaller class sizes and support math, science and technology education, as well as music and arts programs in both the elementary and secondary districts. The new taxes would also add career-training programs to secondary schools.
Santa Barbara School Board member Monique Límon said the board will have to analyze which programs to keep.
“It’s tough for more than 15,000 students that are not going to get those (art and music) programs,” Límon said. “But I believe that our board will regroup, that the community and the foundation will regroup and think what we can do to make sure we can provide those programs.”
The taxes would have lasted for four years, starting in 2013 when Measures H and I expire.
This year’s parcel taxes would have doubled the previous per-parcel amount and the campaign was the Santa Barbara Education Foundation’s third election initiative for the district, but the first in a June election. Godbe Research, the district’s election advisers, recommended a push for June since Gov. Jerry Brown’s tax hike initiative and others will be on the November ballot.
Godbe Research consultants found 72 percent approval among secondary district voters and 77 percent approval among elementary district voters in their polls presented to the Board of Education in January. The district has been successful in passing general obligation bond measures in addition to the parcel tax measures, and this is the first effort that failed to get enough community support to pass.
Meanwhile, the Buellton Union School District’s Measure V garnered 55.2 percent support with all county absentee ballots counted, just enough to meet the 55 percent threshold for approval. The bond measure would authorize the district to issue $3.2 million in bonds to improve student access to technology, make energy-efficient facility improvements, build new classrooms and upgrade school cafeterias.