Dos Pueblos High School
Officials and supporters of Dos Pueblos High School and the Santa Barbara Unified School District helped break ground Oct. 19 on the new state-of-the-art facility for career-technical education pathways in manufacturing, product development, media arts and design. (Santa Barbara Unified School District photo)

New facilities are underway to improve programs at Dos Pueblos and Santa Barbara high schools in the Santa Barbara Unified School District.

Construction of the new state-of-the-art facilities will support career-technical education pathways in manufacturing, product development, media arts and design at Dos Pueblos, at 7266 Alameda Ave. in Goleta.

The $16 million project includes two buildings with 30,000 square feet of educational space.

District staff and Dos Pueblos High teachers worked with Santa Barbara-based KBZ Architects Inc. to develop the project design.

The project is expected to be completed in fall of 2022.

Engineer, civic leader and philanthropist Virgil Elings is the lead donor on the project with a $4 million gift, and the facilities will be named in his honor, district officials said.

“The Engineering Academy offers a world-class education and I want people to know that,” Elings said at a groundbreaking ceremony in October. “Besides, this whole thing is dirt cheap if you calculate how many students are going to be impacted by the new opportunities offered in these buildings — thousands.

“And to just save a few lives by getting people started on a different track than they’re on is worth it.”

Amir Abo-Shaeer, founder of the Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy, noted that Elings “has supported our vision to transform education for the past 10 years and we are grateful for his generosity. With his support, the Elings Center for Engineering Education was completed in 2012 enabling the DPEA to serve 400 plus students annually.”

The project also will kick off a new chapter for the high school’s media program, and the school site will be strikingly improved with the overhaul of the south side of the campus.

DPHS Media Program director John Dent said he’s thankful for Elings’ support and joyful for the opportunity to have all media arts pathway teachers working together in the same facility.

“Being co-located will allow us to collaborate in new and creative ways to provide a comprehensive media arts education to hundreds of students annually,” Dent told Noozhawk. “This is a dream come true.”

The project was initiated with $5 million of a voter-approved Measure I bond in 2016 that was leveraged to raise another $11 million through competitive state grants and philanthropic sources.

“His (Elings) generous support of this new project gives our school the opportunity to go from merely replacing dilapidated, portable classrooms from the 1970s to creating a hub for career-technical education programs,” Dos Pueblos High School Principal Bill Woodard said.

“These new facilities will enable our students to learn, create and collaborate on real-world projects for generations to come.”

Visual Arts & Design Academy’s New Facility

Visual Arts & Design Academy

Santa Barbara High School’s Visual Arts & Design Academy will finally be getting a new facility to help prepare students to pursue college and professional careers. (Santa Barbara Unified School District rendering)

Santa Barbara High’s Visual Arts & Design Academy has been awarded $2.2 million from the California Department of Education through its Career Technical Education Facilities Program for the construction of a new building optimized for VADA’s specialized education and training.

The grant is a major advancement in the funding to replace outdated portable buildings with a modern, purpose-built facility, according to SBUSD officials.

VADA anticipates breaking ground on the new facility in 2021, with doors opening in 2023.

In a statement, VADA program director and art instructor Daniel Barnett said the project is a huge milestone for the school at 700 E. Anapamu St.

“Our goal is to make an environment that will inspire students to learn and create,” he said. “This new building is designed to mirror the standards of colleges, design firms and creative businesses, helping to prepare our students for their professional lives.

“I’m so proud that, by being awarded this highly competitive state grant, we’re bringing millions of otherwise inaccessible dollars back to our local school site.”

District officials hope to double instructional space with a new building while also taking a flexible approach to classroom design and provide designated focus space and an integrated exhibition area.

Improvements will also be made to existing buildings to enhance VADA’s creative and academic programming.

The school district has supported the initiative with nearly $1.2 million from the Measure I bond funds designated for the replacement of two portable classrooms, leveraging career-technical education grant funds to finance the project.

VADA has also raised more than $1.3 million from an anonymous donor, and the generosity of Lillian Lovelace and her late husband, Jon.

With the state grant, VADA has raised $4.7 million of a total $6.5 million capital budget goal before launching the public support campaign, which is to begin in the spring.

Santa Barbara High Principal Elise Simmons said that, each year, up to 50 percent of VADA’s incoming class meets the state’s at-risk criteria outlined by the California Partnership Academies guidelines, and the program’s ethnic and socio-economic diversity mirrors the population of the school.

“VADA is a truly special program, not only in its focus and approach to academic education, but in the demographics of the students that are part of the academy,” she said, adding, “VADA provides equitable access to education and training that is unlike anything else in the community.”

Students are offered a unique combination of classes that teach them fundamental design and art skills jointly with traditional academic coursework, according to SBUSD officials. The program combines design and art education with rigorous academic learning, including dual-enrollment, Advanced Placement and honor courses.

“I’m so impressed with the variety of program choices that S.B. (Santa Barbara) Unified offers to students,” Superintendent Hilda Maldonado said. “Our students deserve the best programs, experiences and learning opportunities.

“21st-century learners require 21st-century facilities and spaces. This grant will help us achieve that.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.