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The Hancock College board of trustees will hold a special meeting to reconsider placing a $75 million facilities bond on the November 2018 ballot after an initial vote held Tuesday night failed 3-1.

A two-thirds majority (four members of the board) was required for the college to place the bond measure on the ballot. With Area 3 Trustee Larry Lahr absent from Tuesday's meeting, Area 2 Trustee Dan Hilker's lone dissenting vote was enough to keep the measure from going forward.

Trustees Hilda Zacarias, Jeffrey Hall and Greg Pensa voted in favor of placing the bond on the ballot.

No date for the special meeting has been set, according to campus spokesperson Andrew Masuda.

The new bond measure would finance additional construction and campus improvement projects — including some left unfinished by Measure I — identified by the college's facilities master plan. 

"We got some buildings and facilities here that were built in the early 1960s and have little done to improve them," said Jim Glines, a longtime Santa Maria resident in favor of the bond. "We passed a bond measure a while back ... and did some wonderful things with that money, but we weren't able to accomplish everything we needed to for the benefit of this college."

In addition to financing a portion of the forthcoming Fine Arts Complex, the proposed bond would provide funding for upgrades to the Santa Maria campus' physical education and athletics facilities, Lompoc campus' Public Safety Training Facility and support for the technical theater program in Solvang.

"It's a shame to have a school of this magnitude have such a lack of facilities," he told trustees. "No bond is easy to pass, but there is a very strong supporting feeling in this community for the college. I believe a bond can be passed and I totally encourage you to get behind it and make it happen."

Under the new bond measure, the college would have $75 million in bonding capacity for projects and improvements. Approximately $34 million in authorized bonds will be canceled from Measure I, bringing the net total of the proposed bond to $41 million.

Under the terms of the proposed bond, homeowners would witness rate increases of $11 per $100,000 of assessed property value.

"All the items listed that would be supported by this bond are all worthy," said Ann Foxworthy Lewellen, a bond proponent who previously served as Hancock College superintendent between 1992 and 2005. "In order to meet student needs, these are areas that need our support."

Current Hancock College Superintendent Kevin Walthers told trustees that the prospect of a bond enjoys support from Santa Maria, Lompoc and Santa Ynez Valley residents, pointing to phone survey results conducted by a third-party polling firm. According to Walthers, more than 70 percent of all residents polled responded positively to the prospect of a new bond measure.

"Our students are getting a good experience, just not the experience they should be getting in the 21st century," he said. "If we go for this issue in November, I think we'll see some really positive support from the community."

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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.