Is it surprising that Andrew Jones and A.J. Pateras support a school bond measure that has divided parts of Lompoc after two failed runs in previous elections?
Jones and Pateras are both Lompoc Unified School District employees who coach football programs at LUSD high schools; Jones at Lompoc and Pateras at Cabrillo. The passing of Measure E would impact them both, and the impact would be almost all beneficial.
Jones says the effects of the bond would be felt primarily in the classroom, but also on the various athletic fields. The bond could have an impact in the Lompoc-Cabrillo football rivalry, with Cabrillo receiving funds for new construction for an on-campus stadium.
Measure E could provide more than $3 million in funding for construction of the stadium on the Cabrillo campus, according to the LUSD Master Plan costs upgrades.
That would bring big changes to the Big Game between the Braves and Conqs, which is always played at Huyck Stadium.
Would that change with Cabrillo having its own stadium? Would Cabrillo draw more football talent? Would athletic talent at both schools increase, making the schools more competitive with their new Channel League foes?
Pateras admits his football team is at a disadvantage. The Conqs just finished an 0-10 season and lost to Lompoc 63-0 in the Big Game, held at Huyck Stadium. They have to bus to every game, even their 'home' ones, played at Huyck Stadium.
Jones think passing Measure E would help strengthen the schools' rivalry. He's probably right.
"That would help build some pride there for them and build this rivalry up," Jone said of Cabrillo having a suitable on-campus stadium.
Lompoc voters haven't been as eager to pass a school bond. This will be the third attempt for LUSD in two years as both prior measures have failed.
The proposed bond would generate a lot of cash for LUSD schools (approximates range from $79-100 million in revenue over about 30 years for LUSD by extending property taxes and combining those with matching funds from the state). All money is supposed to go to upgrades, not to salaries.
This is an important issue dealing with a lot of taxpayer money and opposition to Measure E hasn't been scarce.
Bill Heath, who is seeking reelection to the LUSD board, voted against placing a bond on the 2016 and June 2018 ballots. At a candidate forum earlier this month, Heath said the voters’ rejection of the bond on the 2016 and 2018 ballots should end the issue.
“The public has already voted this bond down twice, and I respect the votes of the public,” Heath said at the forum, according to our Willis Jacobson.
“It’s a lot of money that we entrust to people to spend and I think there is a (contingent of people) that questions those who will be spending it, and I’m one of those,” Heath said last month. “I don’t doubt we need to improve our schools. I think we need to look at other methods to raise the money or use the money we already have more wisely.”
Jones replies: "We are the only school district in the county without a bond. We need to upgrade our schools, upgrade our fields and parks to where there are places for our youth to go and be something."
Pateras says he senses some mistrust from the community.
"I think it comes down to how you want use tax dollars," Pateras said. "People are hesitant on extending bonds and there's some sort of mistrust. I don’t know where it comes from or why, but I can’t think of a better thing to invest in than our schools and kids. That should continue to be our concern. Is there something we can do to impact how well they're prepared for life? The kids in this community need places to learn and feel safe. If we can't do that, then we're missing the boat completely."
Jones, a Lompoc native, says he has no problem in continuing to pay into the school bond that aims to improve the city’s schools.
“I own a house in Lompoc, I’m a taxpayer myself,” Jones said. “I’m more than willing to spend good money for our children, for our kids. I drive through Santa Maria, Orcutt or Santa Barbara and ask 'Why does everybody else have these nice things but our kids have to suffer because we can’t get a bond passed?'”
How do Lompoc voters feel about all this? Well. I guess we'll find out Tuesday.