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Measure Q, Lompoc schools bond, comes up short in tight race

Measure Q, Lompoc schools bond, comes up short in tight race

For the second time in less than two years, Lompoc voters shot down a bond measure aimed at upgrading and improving local schools.

Measure Q, which was placed on the ballot by Lompoc Unified School District, garnered support from just 50 percent of voters in Tuesday's primary, according to unofficial Santa Barbara County election results. Those results included 4,222 vote-by-mail ballots and 2,272 regular ballots. Of those, there was a total of 3,266 "yes" votes and 3,228 "no" votes.

To succeed, Measure Q needed support from 55 percent of voters.

Election results won't become official until July 5.

The failure of Measure Q came on the heels of another failed effort for a schools improvement bond, Measure L, in the November 2016 election.

In both 2016 and this year, LUSD officials cited a wide range of infrastructure and technology upgrades and improvements that they felt were needed for the district's facilities, many of which are at least 50 years old.

Among the types of projects identified by LUSD that officials planned to tackle with the bond money were replacing leaky roofs, providing safety upgrades, updating technology and equipping classrooms with modern learning materials.

Measure L received support from 58 percent of Lompoc voters in 2016, but failed due to needing 67-percent approval. District officials had expressed optimism that Measure Q would succeed with the lower 55-percent threshold, but Tuesday's returns indicate that is unlikely.

The failure of Measure Q is perhaps even more disappointing for LUSD officials and bond supporters than that of Measure L.

Unlike in 2016, a committee was formed this year to lead a grassroots campaign for the bond measure in an effort to better publicize the district's needs and what the bond would mean to local schools. Despite those committee members' enthusiastic phone banks, neighborhood walks and prominent placement of signage around the Lompoc Valley, the measure seemed to face a lot of backlash from city residents.

Many people who spoke out against the bond measure expressed doubts about the district's ability to properly manage the money or simply did not want to be stuck paying the bill for the bond.

If it had passed, Measure Q was scheduled to be repaid through property taxes as an extension of Measure N, the 2002 school bond that remains Lompoc's most recent. It would have been imposed on property owners at a rate of about 6 cents per $100 of assessed value, or $60 per $100,000.

In April, LUSD Assistant Superintendent John Karbula was frank when asked what a Measure Q failure would mean for the district.

“There is only one truthful answer to the question of what will happen if the bond does not pass: The students and staff of Lompoc Unified School District will continue to work and attend school in substandard, aging facilities and the district will not have the capacity to do more than address the most pressing of needs,” he said at that time.

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

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