For the first time in 24 years, the Goleta Union School District has placed a bond measure on the November ballot. The $80 million initiative is intended to improve classrooms and facilities throughout the 10-elementary school district.
“Making our schools more accessible to all learners and providing upgraded classrooms and tools to ensure a STEAM curriculum is successful must be a priority. Needed public oversight is built in to the measure so we can trust the funds will be spent wisely and effectively.”
There is no formal opposition to the bond measure. If approved Nov. 3, the initiative would cost homeowners about $19.31 per $100,000 of assessed valuation of their houses.
The measure requires approval by at least 55 percent of voters. It has support from a wide range of officials, civic leaders and organizations, including Rep. Salud Carbajal, D-Santa Barbara; Dr. Dan Brennan, a pediatrician; and the Santa Barbara South Coast Chamber of Commerce.
The bond would help fund school facilities and upgrade classrooms for STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math) and to support hands-on learning experiences. The money also would be used to increase access to technology and the Internet on all campuses; add renewable energy equipment, including solar panels; and repair roofs, pipes and plumbing.
The bond funds must be used for projects outlined in the actual ballot measure, and the initiative requires mandatory annual audits and an independent citizens oversight committee.
“Measure M ensures that we have dedicated resources to give our children the best education possible,” said Susan Epstein, vice president of the district Board of Trustees. “This is a long-term investment in our children and in a stable community.
“Good schools develop productive community members, attract businesses and retain employees. Investing in our schools leads to more widely shared prosperity and a stronger community.”
Supporters of the bond measure are concerned that although there is no formal opposition, the initiative could get lost on the long presidential election year ballot.
“You can imagine a bond measure not passing because it is at the bottom of the ballot,” Epstein said.
Voters’ economic worries might be another concern. The Goleta district and the single-school Cold Spring School District in Montecito are the only two school districts in Santa Barbara County attempting bond measures in the coronavirus-stricken economy.
The district’s facilities master plan outlines the state of various campus. For example, at Isla Vista School, at 6875 El Colegio Road, there are only three drinking fountains for the roughly 460-student campus. Teachers and students have identified water bottle filling stations as a need. The last upgrade to the campus’ electrical infrastructure occurred more than 20 years ago.
The scope of electrical work was limited and of poor quality, the master plan states.
The district also needs to install electrical upgrades and new technologies to create reliable WiFi connections. At Isla Vista School, the computer lab needs to be configured to serve the different needs of young and older students, as well as more monitors so teachers can teach in smaller groups.
Like many of the district’s schools, Isla Vista also needs new heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.
At La Patera School, 555 N. La Patera Lane, some of the needs include replacing the roof, a new shade structure for the kindergarten yard, a new classroom pod of four new classrooms, exterior lighting and pavement improvements.
“These are some basic needs that we’d be neglectful if we don’t get them done,” Epstein said. “This will be a great asset to the community and it pays for itself. It is just a good idea.”