Wednesday, November 14 , 2018, 3:56 am | Fair 51º


Santa Ynez Schools Seek Voter Approval of $12 Million Curriculum-Driven Improvement Bond

College School District Superintendent Jim Brown calls the $12 million school bond “the bargain of the century.”

The three-school district in the Santa Ynez Valley is asking voters to approve the improvement bond on Nov. 4.

It’s the same size as the one that failed to pass in 2012, but this one has a different concept in that it is driven entirely by the curriculum, Brown said.

The College School District has about 450 students and includes the state preschool, College School for kindergarten through first grade, Santa Ynez School for grades 2 through 8 and Santa Ynez Valley Charter School for kindergarten through eighth-grade students.

All of the schools are emphasizing the STEAM Initiative — science, technology, engineering, arts and math — and bond money would pay to make appropriate facilities for those lessons.

“We think it’s a great opportunity for kids to have a STEAM curriculum, and I just feel they will be educated and ready for the 21st century,” College and Santa Ynez School Principal Maurene Donner said. “We’ve already started by providing extra science classes for our students and they’re just thrilled and they love it.”

There are plans to build a visual and performing arts space for the Santa Ynez Charter School and makers/engineering labs at the three campuses, Brown said.

Scroll down for maps showing the district's plans for bond funding.

They will also add a culinary arts program and focus on healthy food and nutrition teachings for all age levels, Brown said.

“Because we live in the Santa Ynez Valley, culinary arts is really important to us, it fits nicely with the wine industry, viticulture and everything associated with fine wine as part of a dining experience,” Brown said. “We can’t teach (viticulture) in school obviously because these are minors, but students will cooperate with local vintners as appropriate and build daily field-to-table menus as part of the program.”

Like all the school improvement bonds on this year’s ballot, College School District plans to upgrade its “technology backbone” and provide devices for every student in the district.

The primary grades have iPads for each classroom and the students in fourth to eighth grade are using Chromebooks and netbooks during class, Donner said.

“We’re leaning more to Chromebooks because we need something to accommodate the Smarter Balanced Testing,” she said.

The 1938 multipurpose buildings are in original condition so they will be restored but kept close to the historical roots, Brown said.

“We’re hoping voters agree with us, that Santa Ynez kids don’t just need good schools, they need great schools,” Brown said.

They believe the last attempt failed because the district didn’t clearly communicate with the community.

“This is much more than ‘we have old buildings, we need to fix them up’ — it’s about the needs of the facilities based on curriculum,” Brown said.

It’s a more visible campaign this year, with phone banks and volunteers walking door-to-door.

“We have a way to communicate with school families but reaching out to the larger community is a challenge for us — we spent a lot of extra energy on getting the word out,” Donner said.

No one filed ballot arguments opposed to the measure, according to the Santa Barbara County Elections Office.

Measure Y needs 55 percent approval by voters for the $12 million to pass. The district estimates that the bond will cost district property owners $9 per $100,000 of assessed valuation

“What impressed me the most about this is they’re doing a lot with a little,” said parent Brian Robinson, who is being sworn onto the school board in December. “They’re being judicious in doing what they need to meet the educational needs of the school instead of a big monster bond to make pretty campuses.”

Noozhawk news editor Giana Magnoli 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.

Measure Y: College School District Bond for Santa Barbara County

Santa Ynez Elementary School Bond Measure Plans

College School Bond Measure Plans

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