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For proponents of a $79 million Lompoc schools improvement bond, the third time turned out not to be a charm. 

Measure E, Lompoc Unified School District's latest attempt at a bond, fell short in Tuesday's midterm election. The bond, which was the third of its kind in the past two years, garnered 4,498 "yes" votes and 4,746 "no" votes for an approval rate of just 49 percent, according to figures released by Santa Barbara County election officials around 11:50 p.m. It needed 55-percent approval to succeed.

Several bond supporters, including district officials and board members, were gathered in a conference room at the Hilton Garden Inn on Tuesday night as they anxiously awaited the election returns on the third school bond put before Lompoc voters since 2016. One by one, attendees of that gathering left still anxious as 11 p.m. passed with still no updated results on the measure.

As it turned out, the mood would not have been festive.

The bond failure marked the latest setback for proponents of a Lompoc school bond.

The two most recent attempts at similar bond measures narrowly failed at the polls. 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 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.

None of the money, according to the district, would be used on administrative salaries.

If Measure E had passed, it would've been paid off through property taxes, reportedly by extending 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've been imposed on property owners at a rate of about 6 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $60 per $100,000.

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Willis Jacobson covers the city of Lompoc for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter @WJacobsonLR.

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