Staff Report

The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District has been awarded a $3 million Career Technical Education Facilities Program (CTEFP) grant. The funds will be used to convert existing classroom and kitchen spaces into a state-of-the art culinary teaching and food production facility for students enrolled in the Restaurant Occupations program, equipping them with career-ready job skills.

The grant award is the result of several years of planning and the completion of an extensive grant application process.

Proposition 51, passed by state voters in November 2016, provided for $9 billion in bond sales for the purpose of funding public school modernization and new construction projects statewide. Of that amount, $500 million was designated, via a competitive grant process, for the construction and modernization of Career Technical Education (CTE) facilities as well as the purchasing of equipment. Requiring matching funds, the District’s vision for this grant began in 2016 after Santa Ynez Valley voters passed Measure K, a $14.7 million school facility bond that focused on a substantial overhaul of deteriorating campus infrastructure such as replacement of water, natural gas and sewer pipes, roofs, windows and electrical switch gear. Measure K funds were utilized as the match for the CTEFP grant. The redesign of the “pit” area in the center of campus, the new dining addition and the remodel of the cafeteria were all leveraged to create an event space area that was central to the success of the grant application. 

“This is an unbelievable opportunity. I’d like to thank valley voters for kickstarting the journey for us by approving Measure K,” SYVUHSD Superintendent Scott Cory said. “When this grant became available, I was really excited about the possibility that we could do even more for our students and community than what the voters approved. Any campus facility improvements should result in improved instruction and learning for our students. With that in mind, this project hits a home run.”

Career Technical Education, as defined by the California Department of Education, is “a program of study that involves a multiyear sequence of courses that integrates core academic knowledge with technical and occupational knowledge to provide students with a pathway to postsecondary education and careers.” The program of study that is the focus of this grant centers around restaurant occupations, hospitality, tourism and recreation, including catering and event planning. All of these are a natural match with the Santa Ynez Valley’s economy.  

This grant process involved a tremendous number of community supporters, 21 in all were formally included in the application, including many private businesses, valley junior high school districts, the Santa Barbara County Education Office and Santa Barbara City and Allan Hancock colleges.  

“CTE programs have been a source of pride for our district and a cornerstone of our course offerings for decades,” Cory said. “Funding has come and gone, but it has remained a priority in our budget and through annual grant writing efforts. These funds will help us to usher in the next generation of CTE instruction and training for our students and provide them with the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce with so much more than just entry-level skills.” 

Planning is already underway for a gut and remodel of the existing kitchen, classroom and dining lounge, turning them into a world-class culinary teaching facility. As a nod to signature cuisine of the valley, a professional barbecue is also included in the preliminary design. Plans for the new facility must be completed a year from now and construction will begin soon thereafter.