Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 1:34 pm | A Few Clouds 61º


Santa Barbara Schools Stand to Gain Funding Under Bond Measures R, Q

District officials are already crafting a project wish list for the combined $110 million bonds

Money will be on the minds of South Coast voters this November, and the Santa Barbara School District is hoping for part of the action.

Measures R would garner $35 million for the elementary schools while Measure Q would direct $75 million for the secondary schools, to be used for modernizing and repairing infrastructure, facilities and grounds.

As with the district’s recent parcel taxes, Measures H and I, the Santa Barbara Education Foundation is taking on the advocacy role the school district itself is not allowed to fill.

Mark Ingalls, board president of the Santa Barbara Education Foundation, and member Lynn Rodriguez are co-chairs of the steering committee, as they were for Measures H and I, and are spearheading outreach and advertising efforts. As schools are getting older and older, each site has more facilities that go “beyond the usable lifespan,” Rodriguez said.

Community support is essential — as each measure needs 55 percent to pass — and Rodriguez is hopeful that voters continue saying yes to school funding ballot items. She said it’s a good time for it, as people see the needs of local schools being met with less and less state support.

Additionally, the district sees an opportunity for matching funds from the state of California, through Proposition 47 construction and renovation monies. There could be some competition with Measure S, the countywide sales tax initiative, since both involve local money in different ways. Anyone frustrated with a new tax could lock the two together in their minds, and the Santa Barbara Education Foundation is using its outreach efforts to make sure people know the difference between the measures, according to Rodriguez, who said she supports both.

Since the previous bond measure, Measure V, is now ending, tax rates aren’t expected to increase with the passage of those two initiatives. It’s not a guarantee, but “every attempt would be made to keep it consistent,” school district Deputy Superintendent Eric Smith has said.

“At the point voters approve it,” he said, “they expect it to stay the same for the life of the term.”

David Hetyonk, the district’s facilities and operations director, presented to the school board at an August meeting a list of possible projects, including major “shovel-ready” projects such as the Santa Barbara High School kitchen renovation, heating/ventilation replacement at Dos Pueblos High School and a new wing to replace San Marcos High School’s portable classrooms.

Standing among dusty unused ovens and wires hanging from the ceiling, Hetyonk and project manager Carl Mayrose talked Thursday about the improvements Santa Barbara High’s kitchen could desperately use. The school’s main cafeteria has been unused for three years, since the school district began a few renovations, and discovered more needed to be done.

Water leaks, electrical problems and a host of other mechanical and structural deficiencies were discovered, putting the initial costs outside the school’s budget range, Hetyonk said.

“We’ve been trying to maintain this space for years,” Mayrose said, and reports from the Santa Barbara County Public Health Department brought the issues to the forefront, forcing the district to look at renovations.

Mayrose acknowledges that the improvements won’t be the most “glitzy” of renovations, but they are key to student safety. He also said the kitchen improvements would expand on what’s currently there, even adding a test kitchen for future vocational training.

As Mayrose and Hetyonk talked about the kitchen’s need for repair, an ominous creaking noise in the ceiling punctuated the conversation, which Hetyonk said most likely was caused by someone turning on a faucet somewhere in the building.

“This kitchen is the most shining example of need,” he said.

If the measures pass, priorities would be set by the school board, but some criteria have been presented. Project categories recommended to move to the top of the list are projects that remain unfinished or underfunded by previous bond measures, green projects, Americans with Disability Act-required projects, those with matching funds available, and those that take away funding pressures from the district’s general fund.

None of the bond money may be spent on administrative salaries, and an oversight committee will monitor expenditures to make sure funds are allocated appropriately, as it has been with past parcel tax and bond measures.

Only residents who live within one or both of the districts will vote on the measures. For Measure R, which covers the elementary schools, that means Santa Barbara residents would pay $13.98 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. Under Measure Q, which covers the secondary schools, residents of Santa Barbara, Goleta and Montecito would pay $12.48 per $100,000 in assessed valuation.

Measure V, which was passed in 2000, had $114,978,891 spent and accrued as of April 2010, including the initial $67 million from the bond measures, matching funds of $41.8 million the state and private donations.

The parcel tax measures passed in 2008 include a four-year annual tax of $23 for the secondary district and $27 for the elementary district. They include an “opt-out” for seniors, which more are taking advantage of this year than last.

Click here for more information about the bond measures.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk or @NoozhawkNews.

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