An excellent education is one of the keys to a successful future for youth. We support the Measure U bond for the capital improvements for the Carpinteria-Summerland School District on the current ballot, and we supported the Measure V bond for the capital improvements to Santa Barbara City College in 2008.
However, the proposed Measure S is a $288 million blank check for special interests at City College. There is nothing in writing to guarantee that any of the money will be used for any specific project, and there is no way of knowing what it will cost the taxpayers when it is paid back with a yet-to-be-determined amount of interest.
More money does not guarantee a good education. After the last $77 million cash injection, City College almost lost its accreditation while “progressive” board members feuded with each other. They fired former president Andreea Serban (her 2013 pay and benefits were $393,313.96). Most people would be surprised to learn that there are 25 professors who earn over $150,000 per year at SBCC. Most people would be shocked to know that the average janitor at SBCC makes over $60k per year. You can look up salaries yourself at transparentcalifornia.com.
According to the college’s own numbers, only 63 percent of students attending SBCC come from the South Coast. If Measure S passes, South Coast property owners will face higher property taxes and local renters will face higher rents in order to subsidize the students who come from elsewhere (almost half of the enrollment)! Out-of-area students already compete for scarce housing, and some even contribute to the crime rate.
Several thousand out-of-area SBCC students live in Isla Vista. Thousands also crowd the lower Westside of Santa Barbara near SBCC. Local residents bear the brunt of loud partying, vandalism, littering, and sometimes more serious crimes such as rape. Campus authorities have stated that building on-campus housing is not feasible. They have thus far been unsuccessful in reining in the misbehavior of their imported students.
The fact that almost all of the in-state tuition is subsidized by the state government creates a huge distortion in the perceived cost of attending college. Many of the “students” are not serious about getting an education despite the generosity of the taxpayer. Almost one-fourth of classes get dropped. Only 2,710 degrees or certificates were awarded in the last academic year out of a total student population of 30,687. Yet serious students have an extremely tough time getting the classes they need in order to gain the credits they need to move forward.
Statewide reform is needed. The full cost of education (including capital costs) should be reflected in the tuition, which should naturally vary by location. Local taxpayers should not subsidize out-of-area students. Good teachers should be rewarded and promoted. Students pursuing a viable course of study should be offered grants, scholarships, and loans.
So where does reform begin? By voting “no” on the wasteful Measure S.
After holding a meeting during which representatives of SBCC presented their reasons why Measure S should be passed and allowing for opposing views to be heard along with a question and answer period, the Santa Barbara County Republican Party voted overwhelmingly to oppose Measure S.
Gregory Gandrud is chair of the Santa Barbara County Republican Party.