Santa Barbara Unified Sells $53 Million in Bonds

By the Santa Barbara Unified School District

On September 28, 2022, the Santa Barbara Unified School District sold its last two increments of bonds (Series C) for both Measures I and J for a total of $53 million combined.

The first $51.8 million were sold in a matter of the first two hours.

According to investors, they were buoyed by the district’s Aa1 credit rating, recently announced by Moody’s, “a global integrated risk assessment firm that utilizes data, analytical solutions and insights to help decision-makers identify opportunities and manage the risks of doing business with others.”

In its report on Santa Barbara Unified, Moody’s said: 

“(The district) benefits from its designation as a community funded district coupled with a large and diverse economy that supports strong full value per capita. Additionally, the district’s financial profile will continue to benefit from prudent fiscal practices and management’s commitment to adopted reserve policies. The district’s credit profile also considers solid resident income, an elevated long term liabilities ratio and above average fixed costs.”

Moody’s listed the following as credit strengths:

“While internally we have felt that we were on solid financial footing, to have an external agency validate our fiscal practices is not only reassuring for us, but also for the community that invests in us,” said Dr. Hilda Maldonado, the district’s superintendent.

“It speaks to our fiscally responsible tactics in both our day-to-day operations, as well as with our long-term planning. Our fiscal team is top-notch, and to see investors jump at the chance to buy bonds and help us finish our facilities projects around the district is exciting. We are grateful for their trust and investment.”

It is rare for Santa Barbara Unified to sell bonds, which investors said was another key selling point for them.

Measures I and J were approved by voters in 2016, with $193 million dedicated to the modernization of the district’s facilities. 

In 2016, the following commitments were made to aid elementary schools through Measure J, a $58-million bond:

  • Replacement of old portables with new permanent classrooms

  • Repair outdated underground utilities – water, sewer, and natural gas

  • Repair playground surfaces and outdoor paving

  • Modernization of classroom lighting, windows, heating, and ventilation systems

  • Repair old, leaky roofs

  • Modernization of old bathrooms

Recently, the district held a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Monroe Elementary, where five new classrooms were unveiled, all constructed with Measure J funds.

In addition, Measure I, a $135-million bond, identified the following improvements needed for junior and senior high schools:

  • Replacement of old portables with new permanent classrooms

  • Repair outdated underground utilities – water, sewer, and natural gas

  • Improve site drainage to avoid flooding

  • Repair/replace outdated and unsafe electrical equipment

  • Repair of kitchen and cafeteria facilities to meet health code standards

  • Fix classroom lighting, windows, heating, and air circulation systems

  • Repair or replace old, leaky roofs

  • Replacement of old junior high PE facilities

“The taxpayers have been central to addressing our growing needs to improve our facilities around the district, and we thank them for their continued support,” said Dr. Maldonado.

“We can’t wait to see how these newly-funded bonds will impact our employees and our children.”


Written by SBUnified

Press releases written by the Santa Barbara Unified School District (SBUSD). Learn more at

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  1. Santa Barbara is not that hot, good windows would be sufficient for all but the hottest day or two of the year. It would be nice if we could put up real buildings for the kids though. All of our old schools have beautiful grand buildings. How is it that our forefathers were able to construct such fine schools, and today we tend to put in trailer parks with so called “portable” classrooms? I would have thought we could build even more impressive schools today than we did 100 years ago.

  2. 35 million in COVID funds plus measure I & J gonna bring in $193 million.
    Yes HVAC should be top priority given all the concerns over COVID. But for some reason it didn’t make the list. Odd considering schools were closed and the districts concerns over COVID despite CDC saying schools were the safest place for kids.
    Zero progress in changing up the conditions at schools.
    But that’s government. Whose picket will the couple hundred million go into?

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