The Goleta Union School District has a lot planned for its students. That is, if it can pass Bond Measure M on Nov. 3.
The measure seeks to issue $80 million in bonds to fund upgrades across the district’s 10 elementary schools. June 30, during a special session of the Goleta Union board meeting, members voted to put a bond measure on the ballot.
“We’re not a district with crumbling facilities, but we want to put a long-term investment into the students,” said Susan Epstein, school board vice president.
The main improvement is an upgrade to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics) capabilities. Students would have a better opportunity to create and learn hands on.
“It’s a way to make math and science come alive with kids,” she said. “It makes a child really light up and get excited.”
She saw her children enjoy Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy during their time in high school. They used computer aided design software to 3D-print art.
For elementary students, there’s a focus on creativity. Students have freedom to explore while still meeting specifications. In one project, the students build bridges out of popsicle sticks.
“Hands-on learning experiences help our students be ready for the workforce in the future,” she said. “Students doing hands-on projects and working with teams is what companies are asking for.”
The district also seeks to add a solar parking shade structure. It would cover utility costs and store power, so students won’t experience an outage.
Many of the schools’ roofs are 40 years old and have needed frequent patching, so the board hopes to be able to replace roofs across the district. Roof replacement costs about $2 million per building, with some schools requiring $3 million.
Earlier this year, the district outlined a master plan for its facilities. The total price tag is more than $213 million. It includes more ambitious designs, but the district knows the bond wouldn’t cover such an extensive renovation.
The plan began a few years ago, but the board paused discussion to make sure it could feed students and meet their needs during COVID-19.
Right now, the district is installing MERV-13 filters throughout buildings to ensure healthy air. It has also purchased tents for outdoor learning.
“We’re working really hard to be able to reopen,” Ms. Epstein said.
She sees parents’ frustrations as they wait for schools to reopen, and she hopes they can open soon.
“Now more than ever, we see how critical schools are to our community and to our economy and it’s an important investment into the future,” she said.
In a survey performed by Dale Scott and Company in June, 61% of those surveyed were scared about COVID-19’s impact financially.
But still, 53% of people said they’d vote yes to approve a $90 million bond measure, and 18% leaned toward a yes. The survey results were close to identical to the numbers for a $45 million bond.
The measure needs 55% of the votes to pass.
“When you make an investment in schools, you’re making an investment in the community,” Ms. Epstein said. “It pays for itself in the long run.”
Improvements would be made over the next 10 years, she said. If state grant programs pass, the district would take advantage of them and return some of the bond money.