By Scott Cory, Superintendent of the Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District
The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District is placing a bond measure on the November 8, 2016 ballot that seeks to secure the necessary funding for engaging in a facility modernization project to reconstruct deteriorating infrastructure that is beyond its useable life. I would like to provide you with some details and also extend an invitation for an opportunity to provide input and ask questions early on in the process at a town hall style meeting at 6 p.m. on June 16, in the high school library. First and foremost, it’s a chance for me to listen to what you have to say on this topic as I value our community’s input. You are invited to hear a presentation about our modernization plans, ask all of your questions and take home relevant materials to help you better understand why we are reaching out to the community.
When I first came to the district as superintendent for the 2013-2014 school year, it was immediately evident that there was a job to be done in determining what facility needs were the most important to tackle. In order to identify the needs, we engaged in a year-long facility assessment process in concert with an outside company and examined every part of the campus including roofs, paving, sewer and fresh water lines, heating and air conditioning, fire/life/safety and restrooms, among other things. We wanted to be able to assure the community that any request for bond funds would be based specifically on important facility needs and not wants or “nice-to-haves”; it’s our job to seek other types of funding for these sorts of things. Examples of some of those important facility needs include: sixty year old electrical breakers, sixty-five year old underground piping, and seventy-five year old flooring.
In the vein of being responsible and sensitive to our community, the school board and I also established very specific financial goals and parameters for ourselves. They include: 1) no next-generation debt and; 2) do all that we can to ensure that the most money possible goes to funding project costs, not interest. With this in mind, we are seeking fifteen-year term of bond repayments. The shorter repayment time results in both significant interest savings versus a typical thirty-year repayment and ensures that approximately seventy-five cents of every dollar goes to project costs instead of the typical fifty-five cents or less for longer terms. Pending a final vote from the school board at the June 21 meeting, the total bond amount will be in the neighborhood of fourteen million dollars.
We have taken, and will continue to take, this process very seriously as we desire to be the best stewards of the community’s funds while we also do our best to take care of the community’s facility. In addition to serving roughly 1,000 valley high school students, we provide seven-days-a-week facility access to an average of thirty different community organizations each year. Our gyms, pool, athletic fields, classrooms and the only indoor theater in the Valley are used by such organizations the YMCA, various youth wrestling, football, soccer, track and basketball leagues, Solvang Parks and Recreation, SYV Swim Club, Junior Rifle Club, Arts Outreach, Valley Glee and Allan Hancock College, to name a few. We desire to do our best for not only our students, but also our community; our biggest supporter is the community in which we live. So much of what we do could not happen without you.
It is very important for us to be transparent with, and accountable to, our community. With that in mind, I would like to invite all of you to the first of several town hall-style meetings. Would you consider joining us? Please help me spread the word to others that might be interested.