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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on May 16th, 2018, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 19, Issue 11 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 19, Issue 11

Lompoc Unified School District $79 million bond measure on June 5 ballot


It's been 16 years since residents passed a bond measure that funded infrastructure improvements to schools in the Lompoc Unified School District.

Now a $79 million bond measure is on the June 5 primary election ballot, and if passed, the disct's Assistant Superintendent for Business Services John Karbula said it would still only fund about half of the school district's facility improvement needs. Karbula also serves on the district's Measure Q2018 Bond Committee.

"Right now, we are currently stretching our $108 million annual budget as far as it can go," Karbula told the Sun in an email.

Lompoc Unified School District spends nearly 80 percent of its annual budget on salaries and benefits for its employees, Karbula said, leaving roughly $20 million annually for every other expense, including the maintenance of 16 school campuses and the district administrative center. Last year the district allocated about $5 million toward the maintenance of its facilities, many of which are more than 50 years old.

Without the bond, Karbula said there is "no other funding source available" to upgrade and improve the aging facilities.

The proposed bond measure would be used to replace leaky roofs; upgrade inadequate electrical systems; repair or replace outdated heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems; and improve safety and disability accessibility.

The bond would also fund the modernization or renovation of outdated classrooms, restrooms, and school facilities, according to ballot measure text, and it would be used to increase student access to computers and modern technology.

Although the approval of Measure Q2018 would also make Lompoc Unified School District eligible for up to $40 million in state bond money, Karbula said the district's master plan identified more than $220 million in facility improvement needs across the district.

Still, arguments for and against the bond were filed by a few current and former school district administrators, board members, and parents through the Santa Barbara County Registrar of Voters in January and February. An argument against the bond claims that the measure text is too vague and would enforce no district accountability.

The argument also alleges that the Lompoc Unified School District violated oversight laws while using funds from Measure N, a $38 million bond measure approved in 2002.

"Don't vote to waste your taxes on vague promises," the statement reads. "Did the district keep its promises from Measure N? It spent $38 million and still has 'leaky roofs'?"

Measure Q2018 Bond Committee member Karbula said the claims are completely false. Oversight laws were not violated, Karbula said, and the district's master plan and ballot language outline what these bond funds will be used for if approved.

"There will be a citizens oversight committee for Measure Q2018, just like every other successful school bond," Karbula said "And its job is to ensure that all money is spent only on those projects identified in the ballot language."

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