For the third time in the past two years, Lompoc voters will be tasked with deciding the fate of a bond measure that could spur significant upgrades to Lompoc-area schools.
Measure E, a $79 million schools improvement bond, will be among the many choices Lompoc voters will face on the Nov. 6 ballot. The bond is the latest to be placed on the ballot by Lompoc Unified School District leaders, who have outlined dozens of projects that will be undertaken at 18 district sites if the measure proves successful.
The bond, which will be put before voters for a "yes" or "no" vote, will need 55-percent approval to pass.
Two similar bond measures have failed at the polls over the past two years. Measure L received 58-percent approval from voters in November 2016, but needed 67-percent due to the manner in which it was placed on the ballot. Measure Q, which needed 55-percent approval in this June's primary election, fell just short after receiving support from 50 percent of voters.
Those previous bond measures were essentially the same as Measure E, but suffered in part from criticism that the district didn't effectively outline a spending plan.
This time around, LUSD officials have identified about $221 million in site needs throughout the district. The money brought in by Measure E would be used to tackle a large chunk of those needs, according to the district.
LUSD leaders have outlined several types of projects that they intend to fund with the bond money if Measure E passes. Information about those projects has been disseminated in various outlets, both online and during several community forums, and large signs have been posted at each school site with lists, along with projected timelines, of the work that will be done at each respective campus.
Among some of the specific projects that will be performed at most or all of LUSD’s campuses, according to district leaders, is the installation of security fencing, turf/landscape upgrades, the addition of exterior signage and security cameras in public places, as well as ceiling tile and door replacements, repainting, and upgrades to windows, restrooms, security alarms and intercom systems.
Also listed are upgrades to technology, heating, ventilation and air systems, fire alarms and classroom furniture.
The work is slated to be performed in five stages, with the "first strike" projects set to begin in February 2019, and phases one through four running from June 2019 through June 2022.
LUSD administrators have said that the district could be eligible for up to $40 million more in state matching funds if Measure E passes. That could bring the total haul of the bond to nearly $120 million.
None of the money, according to the district, would be used on administrative salaries.
“We have some significant challenges, and those challenges have to do with our schools being 50 and 60 years old,” LUSD Superintendent Trevor McDonald said at a recent forum focused on the bond measure. “It’s very similar to a house; there has to be some upgrades in time.”
If Measure E passes, it would be paid off through property taxes. Rather than imposing new taxes, though, it would instead extend the payments for Measure N, a $38 million bond that was passed in 2002 and remains as the most recent successful schools improvement bond in Lompoc.
According to the Measure E ballot text, the tax would be imposed on property owners at a rate of about 6 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $60 per $100,000.
Measure E includes a Citizens' Oversight Committee that would be formed to monitor how the money is used, if the measure is successful. That independent committee would be required to perform regular audits. Applications for the committee are currently available at lusd.org and at the district headquarters at 1301 North A St.
LUSD leaders and Measure E supporters have arranged several informational sessions for community members who would like to ask questions or learn more about the bond. Among those are campus tours, at which attendees can get up-close views of the state of the schools.
The tours are scheduled to begin at 10 a.m. each Saturday through Oct. 27 in the parking lot at La Honda STEAM Academy, 1213 North A St. Participants can ride on a school bus to each campus or drive their own vehicles. Only adults will be allowed on the buses.
For information on polling locations or other election-related information, visit Santa Barbara County's election website at www.sbcvote.com/elections/elections.aspx.
Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.
Be the first to know
Get local news delivered to your inbox!