Election Day is less than a week away and in Lompoc, a school bond measure is on the ballot once again. This is the third time the district has attempted to pass a measure that would increase funding for facility upkeep.
Measure A is a $125 million school improvement bond that could also make an additional $46 million in funds available from the state, bringing the total to $171 million that would go toward building maintenance.
The district is made up of 14 schools with 9,000 students. Officials say they have used state and federal budgeting as best they can but some of the buildings, which are over 60 years old, need a total revamp — a project too large for regular funding to tackle.
"We are in these classrooms that leak water from the ceiling when it rains, they have rust on the walls, broken floor tiles and ceiling tiles that fall down," explained Skyler Petersen, President of the Lompoc Federation of Teachers.
The Lompoc Federation of Teachers says this bond is just the beginning of getting the district on track with other districts in the area, many of which have bond measures that pass pretty regularly.
"We have not had a school bond pass since 2002. Most communities in the state pass school bonds every few years or so, so we are behind when it comes to the work that needs to be done to modernize our facilities," Petersen said.
In the district's plan for the bond money, they outline extensive updating of existing classrooms as well as replacing utility systems or upgrading technology equipment. The full list of projects planned out under the bill can be foundthrough a link on the Santa Barbara County Elections website.
This measure will be financed by Lompoc property owners at a tax rate of 6 cents per $100 of assessed value. The full breakdown can be found in the Lompoc Unified School District's summary of the bond.
Some residents have expressed concerns about the measure, referencing a lack of trust in the administration's ability to be fiscally responsible.
"I want to say yes but I'm hesitant because I don't know if the funds are going to go where they actually need to go," explained Jennifer Cruz, Lompoc resident.
The district has tried to pass similar measures in the past but did not meet the threshold for approval. In order to pass this year, they need 55% to vote yes on Measure A.