Come this November, voters in the Santa Maria Valley will have to make a decision on Measure T. It’s a bond measure worth $45-million, and the Santa Maria Bonita School District says the money will be used to alleviate overcrowding in its schools.
Wednesday, teachers and school district employees were knocking on doors for support.
“It helps support the building of a new facility, a new school, and also to do project improvement at all of our 19 school sites,” said Jose Segura, a teacher and President of the Santa Maria Elementary Education Association.
According to the school district, overcrowding is enemy number one. It’s bad for students, for teachers and property values. Supporters say the $45-million bond measure will solve that.
Outspoken Santa Maria Bonita School District board member William Smith says otherwise.
“The people of this community should not foot a 45-million dollar bill when there is a better way,” said Smith.
Smith says the money wouldn’t be needed if the school district switched to year-round schooling, instead of the traditional method. Proponents of year-round schooling say it can reduce overcrowding.
“If we go to the track system, we could accommodate over 6,000 more kids and that way we would reduce class sizes, be able to hire more teachers and aides,” said Smith.
The 19 schools in the district carry more than 16,000 students, and that number is growing every year. The new elementary school being built in Santa Maria will be ready for 2015 but the school district says it won’t solve the problem.
As for convincing taxpayers to foot the bill?
“Getting out there, talking to voters, looking them in the eye, asking them for their support, that’s how you gain support in this type of measure,” said Segura.