Recently, questions have been posed with respect to Measure S, the $288 million bond for Santa Barbara City College that will appear on the ballot this November. These questions largely involve several issues — the cost of the bond, enrollment at City College, and other factors.
Cost of Proposed Bond
Measure S would be an excellent investment for taxpayers. The cost of Measure S would be $16.35 per $100,000 of assessed value. The median assessed value of a single-family residence in the Santa Barbara Community College District is $458,669, and the median assessed value of a condo in the SBCC District is $315,000. This means that the cost to the typical homeowner per year would be:
Single-family residence: $74.99/year
However, it should be noted that property taxes are deductible from federal income taxes. The effective cost of the bonds to local taxpayers after deducting the cost of the bonds from federal taxes will be less than these amounts by as much as 40 percent, depending on an individual’s tax bracket.
Enrollment at SBCC
This factor has received some coverage in the media and merits clarification. Santa Barbara City College’s enrollment has increased in recent years mostly because of an increase of thousands of local Latino students. In 1998-99, SBCC enrollment was 23.8 percent Hispanic; in 2013-14, SBCC enrollment was 39 percent Hispanic.
In addition, the total number of young people born locally who then grew up into the SBCC age group has increased substantially in recent years. Between the percentage increase in the number of Latinos attending SBCC and the increase in SBCC’s total enrollment as a result of more young people in SBCC’s age range, the number of Hispanic students (overwhelmingly Santa Barbarans) at SBCC has increased by more than 4,000 in the past 15 years.
By way of contrast, in 1999, the proportion of international students at SBCC was 4.7 percent; now it is 6 percent — not much of an increase there. There is no correlation or causality between a significant increase in international students at SBCC and the increase in local rents because there has been no significant increase in international students at SBCC.
The following factors with respect to enrollment are far more significant than the increase of international students:
Increase in the proportion of local students attending SBCC: This statistic is truly exceptional. Of the 2013 graduating classes at local public high schools — Carpinteria, Dos Pueblos, San Marcos, and Santa Barbara — approximately 43 percent enrolled at SBCC in September 2013. This is a very high percentage, and it is among the highest in the state and nation. Indeed, it may be the highest.
Increase in high school students attending SBCC during high school years: In addition, while still in high school, about 2,000 local high school students at any point in time are enrolled in City College courses either at their high school sites or SBCC. There are about 8,000 total local high school students, so this means about one-quarter are enrolled at City College at any point in time. This proportion, too, may be the highest in the state and nation.
Also, many students who graduate from local high schools initially enroll at SBCC at some point following the September after graduation, and not all local high school students who participate in SBCC classes during high school are enrolled all the time.
In short, more than half of local high school students participate in SBCC courses at some point during high school, and more than half attend SBCC after graduation — both of these local attendance figures may be the highest in the United States and involve thousands of initial local students each year and tens of thousands of local students over time.
Santa Barbara City College was designated the number one community college in the nation in 2013. Almost all of its programs individually are exceptional, and taken together they are nothing other than a national and state model for what a community college should be.
SBCC’s involvement in vocational and job training should be emphasized. Thousands of residents receive job training and career preparation through City College — SBCC is vital to our local economy and employers.
In addition to City College itself, thousands of individuals are enrolled in the Center for Lifelong Learning (formerly Continuing Education and before that Adult Education), including in adult high school classes, English language instruction, courses leading to the GED high school equivalent certificate, and continuing education and certification requirements for many positions.
Santa Barbara City College really is the best in the nation. Please join the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association and many others in voting yes on Measure S.
Lanny Ebenstein, PhD, is chair of the Education Committee for the Santa Barbara County Taxpayers Association.