Virgil Elings | Credit: Courtesy

Two Santa Barbara Unified programs are getting major upgrades to their facilities.

Dos Pueblos High School is constructing new state-of-the-art facilities that will support Career Technical Education pathways in manufacturing, product development, media arts, and design. At Santa Barbara High School, the Visual Arts and Design Academy (VADA) will be constructing a new building specifically designed for the specialized education that VADA offers.

The schools came up with the funds through different means. At Dos Pueblos, lead philanthropist Virgil Elings gifted $4 million to the facilities, enough to have the facilities named in his honor. 

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“I am thankful for Virgil’s support and excited about the opportunity to have all of the media arts pathway teachers working together in the same facility with interconnected classrooms,” said DPHS Media Program Director John Dent. “Being co-located will allow us to collaborate in new and creative ways to provide a comprehensive media arts education to hundreds of students annually. This is a dream come true.”

Santa Barbara High was awarded $2.2 million from the state Department of Education’s Career Technical Education Facilities Program.

“Our goal is to make an environment that will inspire students to learn and create,” said Daniel Barnett, program director and art instructor of VADA. “This new building is designed to mirror the standards of colleges, design firms, and creative businesses, helping to prepare our students for their professional lives. I’m so proud that, by being awarded this highly competitive state grant, we’re bringing millions of, otherwise inaccessible, dollars back to our local school site.”  

These were just some of the contributions to the projects. Dos Pueblos’ project costs $16 million in total and was initiated with $5 million of Measure I bond money, which was leveraged to raise another $11 million through competitive state grants and philanthropic sources, including Elings’s donation. At Santa Barbara High, nearly $1.2 million came from Measure I 2016 Bond funds and $1.3 million came from “an anonymous angel donor and the generosity of Lillian and Jon Lovelace.” In total, VADA has raised $4.7 million of a total $6.5 million goal.

Dos Pueblos’ project will include two buildings with 30,000 square feet of specialized educational spaces. Santa Barbara High’s will double the campus space with a new building of 3,350 square feet. The VADA project is scheduled to break ground in the second half of 2021, with the new doors opening in the first half of 2023. Dos Pueblos’s project is scheduled to be completed in fall 2022.

“I’m so impressed with the variety of program choices that S.B. Unified offers to students,” Superintendent Hilda Maldonado said. “Our students deserve the best programs, experiences, and learning opportunities — 21st century learners require 21st century facilities and spaces. [The VADA grant] will help us achieve that!”

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