Pixel Tracker

Sunday, February 17 , 2019, 2:48 am | Partly Cloudy 48º

 
 
 
 

Mark Ingalls and Lynn Rodriguez: Why You Should Vote Yes on Measures Q, R

For even basic school facility upgrades and critical campus repairs, the fiscal responsibility is all ours

It’s hard to argue that the Santa Barbara School Districts renovations envisioned by Measures Q and R are not needed. The replacement of half-century-old infrastructure and dated facilities will save operating expenses through energy-efficient systems and provide students with modern technology needed to be competitive in today’s world.

Mark Ingalls
Mark Ingalls

There’s really no other sensible choice. Even in hard times, critical repairs don’t make sense putting off. If our homes or businesses have broken plumbing and leaking roofs, they need to be fixed. Same thing here: if we don’t make the necessary improvements now, the cost will become more expensive later — and our students will be shortchanged in the meantime.

The list of bond projects that the Santa Barbara elementary and secondary districts has identified for funding at each school is conservative in scope and responsible to taxpayers: essential projects that address only the most pressing concerns without increasing the current annual tax debt.

Despite daunting financial challenges, the Santa Barbara School Districts are fiscally sound. They have addressed plummeting state revenues by making the necessary cuts and personnel reductions required to balance operating budgets — while preserving the core instructional programs — without going into the red. Unlike many districts, Santa Barbara has also kept its required reserves intact, but there is no money for needed capital projects.

Lynn Rodriguez
Lynn Rodriguez

What many people may not realize when it comes to school facilities, is that bond measures like Q and R are the only way of raising funds for needed capital improvements. Unlike some local government agencies, like special districts that have the ability to cover capital costs with regular assessments, there is no layaway option for public schools. Funding for repairs and renovations of local school facilities is entirely dependent upon the willingness of local voters to pass school bonds. Without community support there is no alternative means for our schools to generate the money to pay for facilities renovation and replacement.

This is because the California system of school financing is only designed to provide sufficient funding to cover operations costs, not to meet capital facilities needs. The state funding model, which dates back to 1979, doesn’t allow local control over allocation of locally paid property taxes; instead, Sacramento reallocates these funds among school districts statewide. While we have seen our local property tax base grow to the point where the Santa Barbara Elementary School District has achieved “basic-aid” status, this has not resulted in any additional funds.

For example, in the Santa Barbara Elementary School District, the total general revenue funding that is available under the state funding model is slightly under $5,000 per pupil for 2010-2011. Nearly all of this money is committed to student instruction, where every penny and more is needed. This figure doesn’t include any capital funding for construction — and only minimal maintenance funding.

In the Santa Barbara Secondary District — covering all South Coast junior and senior high schools, except in Carpinteria, which has its own district — the situation is essentially identical: the nearly $6,000 per pupil funding is slightly higher because the state model recognizes the higher cost of educating junior and high school students, and there is no money left over for capital expenditures.

Other funds that are received from the federal and state governments are restricted for designated purposes, such as special education, and cannot be used for construction. This means that the bulk of capital costs must be paid for through the issuance of public bonds. School districts rely on both state and local general obligation bonds to raise money to build and remodel school buildings. In earlier years, the Santa Barbara School Districts was able to combine local bond dollars with state matching bond funds in carrying out capital projects. However, state bond money is all but depleted and it is questionable when we will see another statewide bond measure passed.

Measures Q and R deserve our support because there is simply no other way we can address these challenges. So it is up to South Coast voters to step up and invest in our future. No one else will do it for us.

— Mark Ingalls and Lynn Rodriguez are co-chairs of the Yes on Measures Q and R campaign. Click here for more information on the initiative. Become a fan of Yes on Measures Q&R on Facebook.

Talk to Us!

Please take Noozhawk's audience survey to help us understand what you expect — and want — from us. It'll take you just a few minutes. Thank you!

Get Started >

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.