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Planning underway to construct $3M state-of-the-art culinary facility at Santa Ynez High School
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Planning underway to construct $3M state-of-the-art culinary facility at Santa Ynez High School

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District over the next year will move forward with the planning phase of a state-of-the art culinary teaching and food production facility on campus, thanks to a $3 million state grant — the largest in the school's history, according to Superintendent Scott Cory. 

The school's Career Technical Education Facilities Program is the recipient of the funding from Proposition 51, passed by state voters in 2016.

Plans include gutting and remodeling the existing kitchen, classroom and dining lounge — all separate from the main campus dining hall recently updated — and turning them into a world-class culinary teaching facility. A professional barbeque also will be included in the preliminary design as "a nod to signature cuisine of the Valley."

The grant is the result of a yearslong competitive application process that involved as many as 21 community supporters, including a number of private businesses, Valley junior high school districts, the Santa Barbara County Education Office, city of Santa Barbara and Hancock College, according to Cory.

“This is an unbelievable opportunity," Cory said. "I’d like to thank Valley voters for kick-starting the journey for us by approving Measure K. When this [Proposition 51] 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.”

Santa Ynez High School is one in a number of state high schools that was granted a portion of the $500 million set aside through Proposition 51 for the construction and modernization of career facilities programs, as well as for the purchase of program equipment. 

Measure K funds — which more recently funded the school's cafeteria remodel, the new dining hall addition and the redesign of the outside student area in the center of campus — were utilized as the required match for the grant, according to Cory, which proved to be central to the success of the grant application process.

Santa Ynez High School offers students Career Technical Education Facilities programming in industries of multimedia, sports medicine, ag mechanics, drafting and accounting, among others. However, the restaurant occupations program was chosen as the beneficiary of the sizable grant. 

“[Career Technical Education Facilities] 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." 

The restaurant occupations program, Cory said, is a natural fit for Santa Ynez Valley's economy, with its focus on hospitality, tourism and recreation, as well as catering and event planning.

"These funds will help us to usher in the next generation of [Career Technical Education Facilities] program instruction and training for our students," Cory said, "and provide them with the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce with so much more than just entry-level skills."

Lisa André covers local news and lifestyles for Santa Ynez Valley News. 


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