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Santa Barbara Schools Ask Voters For $193 Million in Facility-Improvement Bond Measures

Measures I and J on the November ballot would fund projects at Santa Barbara Unified's elementary and secondary school sites

The cracked pavement at Adams Elementary School is one area where district leaders hope to fund improvements with a bond measure on November’s ballot. Click to view larger
The cracked pavement at Adams Elementary School is one area where district leaders hope to fund improvements with a bond measure on November’s ballot.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Cracked asphalt and weed-filled potholes mark the playground pavement at Adams Elementary School.

The uneven surface has become a safety concern and needs to be replaced,Principal Amy Alzina said.

“We are a big running school, and the students run every morning, which is great for brain development,” Alzina said. “It’s well-used, but it needs to be resurfaced.”

On the November ballot, Santa Barbara Unified School District will ask voters to approve bond measures that would generate $193 million for facility improvements.

Measure I and Measure J each need a 55-percent vote to pass. 

If approved, the money would fund projects beyond the $110 million bond issue approved in 2010, which resulted in capital project construction all over Santa Barbara elementary and secondary schools. 

Measures I and J would replace portables with permanent facilities, upgrade infrastructures and technology, according to the ballot language. 

The proposal includes updates to 21 schools in the district, on a combined 288 acres of land, with over 1.8 million square feet of interior spaces, according to the program overview. 

Both facility bonds, one for the boundary of the former elementary district and one for the boundary of the former secondary district, would require annual audits and an independent citizen oversight committee to ensure fiscal accountability.

None of the funds would be spent on school administrator or instructional salaries or be taken by the state, according to Facilities and Operations Director David Hetyonk.

“We can’t use the bond for any funds besides facilities,” Hetyonk said. “This includes the furnishing and equipment inside the facilities.”

Santa Barbara Junior High School’s windows are original to the 1932 construction and need to be replaced to better insulate the buildings, according to the school district. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Junior High School’s windows are original to the 1932 construction and need to be replaced to better insulate the buildings, according to the school district. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Measure I is estimated to cost the average homeowner $12 per $100,000 of assessed property value, according to the district, and would be applied for the secondary schools boundary and fund projects at junior and high schools.

The $135 million bond measure would replace portables with permanent classrooms, repair underground utilities (water, natural gas and sewer), improve drainage, repair electrical equipment, fix classroom windows, roofs, heating, ventilation systems and lighting, according to the district. 

The district showed some of the areas improvements are planned if the measures pass in a tour Tuesday, including sites at Adams, Santa Barbara Junior High and Dos Pueblos High School. 

The proposed bond offers repairs to the 1963 Santa Barbara Junior High multipurpose building’s walls and floor.

The school kitchen does not meet health and safety code requirements, Hetyonk said, adding that the outdated floor and cracks impact working conditions.

Work equipment, lights and windows also need to be fixed.

“The heath department reminds us yearly that we need a new floor,” Hetyonk said. “This type of floor was allowed when the kitchen was built. It’s hard to maintain and clean.”

The campus was built in 1932 and structural upgrades, such as window replacements at the junior high’s main building, are a priority, said Principal Lito Garcia.

The south and east side of the building have received sun damage, causing broken window panels and chipped paint. The windows have not been replaced since the campus was constructed.

“The windows are not double pane,” Garcia said. “On hot days, they provide zero installation.”

Santa Barbara Junior High School’s kitchen could get improvements under a proposed bond measure on the November ballot. Click to view larger
Santa Barbara Junior High School’s kitchen could get improvements under a proposed bond measure on the November ballot.  (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

Garcia said the upgraded facilities would help the learning conditions on the 760-student campus.

Other projects mentioned for bond-funded improvements include the portable classrooms, stadium track and classrooms at Dos Pueblos High School, Hetyonk said.

Measure I would also include the district's opportunity to purchase the Santa Barbara National Guard Armory. The 4.7 acres located between Santa Barbara Junior High and Santa Barbara High School would be used for educational and recreational programs.

Measure J would provide bond funding projects at elementary schools, including outdoor paving and upgrading bathrooms, district officials said.

The $58 million measure is estimated to cost the average homeowner $13 per $100,000 of assessed value.

Built in 1956, Adams Elementary School needs lunch table replacements and a facelift in the multipurpose room, which caters to 569 students, Hetyonk said.

In addition, the measure proposes replacing more than 100 portable classrooms across the elementary schools, repair underground facilities, lighting, heating, windows and roofs.​

If the voters support Measures I and J, district officials including Hetyonk, Superintendent Cary Matsuoka, Assistant Superintendent of Business Meg Jetté and Maintenance Manager Steve Vizzolini are recommended for a district bond program team, according to the program overview.

Prioritizing replacement needs is a group process involving school principals, teachers administration and maintenance employees, Hetyonk said. 

“They give us input on what is failing and the needs,” Hetyonk said. “That provides us with a good foundation for making priority recommendations to our Board of Education, which makes the final decision.”

If the measures pass, the board would report a detailed project list of each school site, what they plan to accomplish and a six-plus year timeline of execution needs, according to the overview. 

“Schools don’t just serve kids, they serve the community,” district spokeswoman Barbara Keyani said, mentioning how Dos Pueblos High School recently acted as a base camp for firefighters during the Sherpa Fire and local organizations use the campuses. 

“It’s not just improvements for children, but also the area.”

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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