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Measure Y2018 — Hancock College's $75 million bond — failed to pass Tuesday night as supporters of the bond fell short of reaching the 55-percent threshold it needed to pass.

With all precincts reporting, Measure Y was behind in the unofficial vote count, with 17,597 votes, or 51.86 percent, cast against the bond and 14,431 votes, or 43.77 percent, marked in support of the measure. 

Of the $75 million authorized by the bond measure, approximately $34 million would be used to pay off existing Measure I debt, leaving property owners with a single payment of $11 per $100,000 of assessed valuation over 30 years. The bond required a 55-percent approval from the district's registered voters in order to pass.

"We are disappointed in the early results," said Hancock President/Superintendent Kevin G. Walthers. "The need is still critical for our students. We remain committed to helping our students succeed, but we will need to find ways, as a community, to support them with 21st-century facilities and technology."

After failing during their first attempt, college trustees voted in June to place the multimillion-dollar bond measure on ballots for the Nov. 6 election. The districtwide proposal appeared in front of voters throughout the Santa Maria, Lompoc, Santa Ynez and Cuyama valleys, as well as in unincorporated communities across northern Santa Barbara County.

Funds will be primarily used to construct a $48 million visual and performing arts center at its Santa Maria campus, improve sites in Lompoc and Santa Ynez, and upgrade and replace aging facilities throughout the district. Proponents of the bond — largely comprised of educational and business leaders from Santa Maria, Lompoc and the Santa Ynez Valley — say it will address urgent and critical facility needs. 

In addition to the Fine Arts Complex, bond funds will be used in Santa Maria to upgrade the 56-year-old Physical Education building. Athletes and college staff previously described the facilities as inadequate, out-of-date and in need of work. Bond money may also be used to complete the college’s Sports Pavilion, including adding field lights, bleachers and a press box to the football and track stadium.

In Lompoc, funds would be utilized to improve the district’s Public Safety Training Complex — a dedicated campus used to train regional fire, law enforcement and other first responders. Roughly $2 million has also been earmarked for upgrades to Solvang Theaterfest’s open-air Festival Theater.

Under California law, no portion of the bond money can be used as salaries or pensions for college administrators, faculty or staff. An independent citizens' oversight committee comprised of local taxpayers (excluding district employees and vendors) will monitor all bond expenditures. As part of the oversight process, the bond requires yearly audits to ensure the funds are properly spent.

Mathew Burciaga covers education in Santa Maria and the surrounding area for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @math_burciaga


Education Reporter

Santa Maria Times reporter Mathew Burciaga covers education for Lee Central Coast Newspapers.