Opinion: Yes on Measure E to improve district education


The Ventura Unified School District Bond Measure “E,” also known as Measure E, can allow funding for necessary campus improvements throughout the VUSD, including Ventura High School. Photo by: Alejandro Hernandez

Alejandro Hernandez

Measure E would provide millions to rejuvenate VUSD schools

Ventura Unified School District Bond Measure “E,” known colloquially as Measure E, is a ballot measure initiated by the VUSD. Registered voters residing within VUSD boundaries will vote on the measure as a part of the general election, with a 55 percent supermajority vote required for its passing. 

According to the Ventura County Clerk-Recorder, Measure E’s ballot text is, “To improve the quality of education; repair/replace leaky roofs; make health, safety and security improvements; and construct, modernize, renovate classrooms, restrooms and school facilities; shall Ventura Unified School District’s measure be adopted authorizing $434,500,000 of bonds at legal interest rates, generating on average $23,300,000 annually while bonds are outstanding at a rate of approximately 6¢ per $100 assessed value, with annual audits, independent citizens’ oversight committee, NO money for salaries and no money taken by the State?” 

In summary, Measure E would provide $434.5 million to the VUSD for its capital needs in funding school improvements and repairs, notably for classrooms and school facilities. According to the VUSD, “Many of our schools are outdated and major upgrades and renovations need to be made. Although our schools have been well maintained over the years, the last major renovations to elementary and middle schools occurred in the 1990s. Many outdated classrooms and facilities now require significant upgrades to meet 21st-century standards. Currently, the average age of our schools in the District is 63 years. EP Foster Elementary is our oldest, and Ventura High School is over 84 years old. These aging schools need major classroom and infrastructure improvements to maintain the quality of education provided to local children.” 

Measure E is an obvious solution to a long-overdue issue: material deficits in VUSD schools. Material deficits were measured by community input and school facilities needs analyses undertaken by every VUSD school, which they used to create project lists (a list of necessary school improvements). According to the VUSD, every school would get a different amount of funding relative to their project list, but every school would get a portion of Measure E funding.

Measure E would also provide funding for VHS campus needs that are outlined in its project list. Among these needs are the demolishment of condemned buildings, replacement of outdated portables, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) replacements and upgrades, restroom renovations, quad renovation, campus-wide painting, floor replacements, window replacements, fire alarm replacements, intercom replacement, new hydration stations, facility renovations, new learning spaces, plumbing upgrades and electrical upgrades. 

Principal Marissa Rodriguez said, “When combined with state-matching funds, developer fees and other funding sources, the measure is intended to address the needs of our students through modernization and renovation projects at all Ventura Unified schools throughout the District. Through a series of processes over the last three years, input has been received from staff, teachers, students, families, and community members on the facility needs [that] they feel need to be addressed.”

The VUSD receives a remarkably lower amount of bond dollars compared to other local school districts. This injustice can be remedied by voters passing Measure E Nov. 8. Graphic by: Ventura Unified School District

School bond measures like Measure E are unique insofar as their democratic approval process. Residents who reside within VUSD boundaries are eligible to vote on Measure E, allowing for a check and balance between school districts and their constituents, unlike most school decisions. Voters will decide Nov. 8 whether a community-wide investment in education is worthwhile. The answer is self-evident, as Measure E provides a direct method for VUSD education improvement, whether by rejuvenating old facilities or creating new ones.

Quincy Lowder ‘24 said, “I think Measure E could benefit many of the schools in VUSD. Many schools in Ventura have been around for a long time and [are] very outdated. While Measure E won’t necessarily change the methods of education for students, I believe that it could at least change some students’ outlook on school.”

There is a precedent for Measure E; Measure M. Measure M was an $81 million bond (about $150 million adjusting for inflation) passed in June 1997 with 75 percent of voter approval. Measure M provided the necessary funds to improve the quality of education in the VUSD, including the construction of ATLAS Elementary School. Measure E has the potential to yield even greater results than Measure M because it would provide more funding than Measure M did. 

As stipulated in Measure E’s ballot text, the use of the $434.5 million would be audited annually and overseen by an independent committee. In addition, the bond’s funding would be used solely for the purposes outlined in the ballot text. These stipulations secure Measure E funding from gross pilfering, siphoning or embezzlement. 

Measure E’s $434.5 million is not excessive since school needs that are outlined in their respective project lists will generally still be required independent of whether or not Measure E passes. The high cost of Measure E is fixed, and Measure E provides a democratic method for alleviation with anti-corruption stipulations. If Measure E does not pass, then district-wide campus deterioration will continue. According to the VUSD, “[If Measure E does not pass] funds that would otherwise go to classroom instruction will be needed to make critical safety repairs and improvements at each school. Major repairs will need to be postponed and as a result will potentially be more expensive to make.”

Measure E provides adequate funding to address the looming issues facing VUSD campuses. The measure is a much-needed remedy to a long-overdue problem. Ultimately, voters will decide whether or not to implement the bond, though the most logically sound vote is “yes,” for education and community.