The Carpinteria and Montecito school districts have each placed bond measures on this November’s ballot, hoping at least 55 percent of voters will approve the new taxes.
In Carpinteria, Measure U is a $90 million facilities bond that would pay for building renovations and repairs. If it passes, property owners who live in the district would pay $47 for every $100,000 of the assessed value of their properties each year for the bond’s lifespan. Assistant Superintendent Cindy Abbott said the key projects the bond would pay for include improvements in line with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), replacements for 68 portables classrooms, and technology upgrades. “Classrooms that were built in the ‘60s have only one outlet on each wall,” Abbott said. To determine which buildings on the district’s campuses — which includes three elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, and a small continuation high school — administrators created an 18-month facilities master plan.
The area chapters of the Republican and Democratic parties have both endorsed the measure along with First District Supervisor Salud Carbajal, Assemblymember Das Williams, and Carpinteria City Councilmembers Fred Shaw and Gregg Carty. One person submitted arguments against Measure U, contending that bond issues do not improve education and do not retain quality teachers. But Abbott said she did not believe there was any organized opposition.
Nineteen years ago was the last time voters passed a $17.5 million bond, Abbott said, but most of the campuses remained untouched. “Clearly it was not enough money to get the work done,” she added. “What we don’t want to do is go out to the community and say we didn’t have enough money and we need more.” (The passage of Prop 39 in 2000 decreased the two-thirds supermajority needed for such a measure to pass. The bonds cannot be used for salaries or school operating expenses.)
Meanwhile, The Montecito Union School District is asking voters to approve a roughly $27 million bond measure known as Measure Q. Only the 5,000 residents who live in the district — and not the Cold Springs district — will vote. “I think that the thing that is critical is that this is not a project that is all about fluff,” said Superintendent Tammy Murphy, adding 71 percent of the money would be used for deferred maintenance or basic infrastructure upgrades. No one submitted an argument against the ballot initiative.
Seventeen years ago was the last time a bond measure passed in the Montecito district, which serves 462 students in grades kindergarten through sixth. The monies would pay to upgrade plumbing and electric systems as well as the construction of a new cafeteria and classroom building. “It’s not like we keep going to the taxpayers,” Murphy added. “We’ve been very prudent.”
If the measure passes, residents will pay $12 per $100,000 of their properties’ assessed value. Residents in the district are currently paying $0.67 per $100,000, according to a consultant hired by the Montecito district.