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Santa Maria school year ready to start, overcrowding still a problem

Santa Maria-Bonita School District

Students in Santa Maria will head back to school on August 12 facing overcrowded classrooms and campuses.

The Santa Maria-Bonita School District is working to address the problem by building 12 new classrooms at its Tommie Kunst Junior High.

A Santa Maria construction company was awarded the bid at a special session of the board of education Thursday. Its bid was the lowest.

A new yet-to-be-named elementary school campus is also under construction. Both projects are being self-financed through loans.

Maggie White is the district spokesperson and says at least one more elementary school is needed, and the district will turn to the voters this November for that one.

"We are bursting at the seems, not only at the junior high level but also at the elementary level," said White. "Santa Maria is one of the few districts in this county that continues to grow and we grow significantly each year.

White says in the last five years the district has grown by more than 1700 students, and district officials are expecting an additional 1000 over the next two to three years.

Santa Maria-Bonita has never been successful with a construction bond measure, according to White. However, she says she believes this time the voters understand just how overcrowded the system currently is.