The Lompoc Unified School District board of education voted Tuesday night to place a bond measure on the June 2018 ballot during a meeting that also included pleas from a pair of community members regarding Jeff Wagonseller, the Cabrillo High School principal who was placed on administrative leave this month.
In order for the bond measure to be placed on next year's ballot, it needed at least four votes of support from members of the board. That threshold was achieved when only board member Bill Heath voted in opposition. With the 4-1 passage, LUSD will go to the voters next summer for a potential $79 million in bond funding.
Another major topic at the meeting was the situation surrounding Wagonseller, who was placed on leave effective Sept. 14. Two speakers addressed the board in regards to Wagonseller, with one offering support for the principal who had been head of the school since 2014 and the other urging the board to be diligent and factor Wagonseller’s past into any considerations about his future.
Wagonseller was not in attendance at the meeting, but Leslie Wagonseller, his wife, was present. After the conclusion of the meeting, Leslie, who is the district’s director of information technology and education services, provided Lee Central Coast News with a statement on behalf of her husband, who hadn’t offered any previous public comment since being placed on leave.
“Jeff continues to appreciate the support of the students, faculty and community,” read the statement. “He is working with the district to resolve this personnel matter and hopes to be back at Cabrillo as soon as possible.”
Jeff Wagonseller’s status has been a point of concern over the last two weeks for many in and around the district.
On Monday morning, about 150 Cabrillo High students staged a walkout and held a 20-minute demonstration in front of the school in support of Wagonseller.
District leaders have declined to offer any insight into why Wagonseller was placed on leave, citing personnel privacy.
What is known is that Wagonseller resigned from a position as a coach and educator in Nevada in 2000 amid allegations of sexual misconduct with a former student. No charges were filed from that incident, but Wagonseller was named in a civil suit.
The speaker at Tuesday’s meeting who asked the board to keep Wagonseller’s history in mind brought up that prior incident and also asked the district administrators to reveal the nature of this current situation so that everyone, including students, parents and community members, is better informed.
No members of the board responded directly about Wagonseller, though members Dick Barrett and Jeff Carlovsky, who is a former principal at Cabrillo, both pointed out near the end of the meeting that they had separately visited Cabrillo High School in the past week to offer support to the faculty and staff at the school.
With the passage of the bond measure vote, the district will now look to make up for its 2016 failure.
The district had placed Measure L2016 on the November 2016 ballot, but the measure was unsuccessful despite receiving support from 58.5 percent of voters. That bond needed two-thirds approval, or 67 percent, because it did not initially receive the four votes of support from last year’s LUSD board, which received three new members following the 2016 election.
Now that it will need only 55-percent approval from voters on the June 8, 2018, ballot, district leaders apparently feel confident in its success. If so, that confidence was likely reinforced by a positive outlook given to the board on June 27 by consultant Greg Isom, whose firm, Isom Advisors, had polled Lompoc voters and done other demographic research that indicated another bond measure was likely to pass.
The text of the bond measure notes that the revenue generated by the bond will go toward repair and replacement of leaky roofs; upgrades of inadequate electrical systems; construction and modernization of classrooms and other school facilities; replacement of outdated heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems; and upgrades to physical education fields for school and community use. It further states that no money will go to teacher or administrative salaries.
The bond will be paid by a tax levied on taxable property within the district.
“I just think (about) the legacy of this board, what’s it gonna be?” Barrett asked prior to the vote on the bond measure placement.
“We need to get some things done here, and we all know the condition of our district,” he later added. “I just think it’s right that we get this thing out to the people.”
The next meeting of the LUSD board of education is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Oct. 10 in the Education Center Board Room, 1301 North A St.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.
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