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Education & Academics

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in Santa Barbara County

Vandenberg AFB 2018 Education

For those moving to a new location, it’s important to know what educational options are available. This chapter outlines the public schools system in Santa Barbara County, along with information about local libraries and higher education. There are private schools, charter schools and home schooling available to children in the county as well.

To be enrolled in a California school, a child must be 5 years of age on or before Sept. 1 of the school year. Check with the school for additional registration requirements. Students must submit an up-to-date immunization record.

In 2010, California, along with the majority of other states, the District of Columbia, Guam, American Samoa, the Northern Mariana Islands, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Department of Defense Education Activity, adopted Common Core State Standards that provide a consistent set of educational expectations for students, regardless of ZIP code. When a family moves, a student’s education is often disrupted because the student may be forced to repeat material or learn at a different level at the new school. With common standards across states, this disruption will be reduced — of particular interest to military families. At present, national Common Core State Standards exist only for English language arts and mathematics, with science and social studies in development, though California has state standards across the full curriculum. For more information, visit



Charter schools are public schools of choice that are tuition-free, serve all students and have open enrollment. For more information, visit the California Charter Schools Association online at


California statutes do not explicitly authorize home schooling. Whether a home-schooled child is attending a private school and therefore exempt from public school attendance is a decision made by local school districts and law enforcement authorities.

However, many public schools offer independent study or home-based study as an option. California has a growing number of charter schools that offer different types of schooling in nontraditional settings. For assistance in finding independent study options in Santa Barbara County, go to


To search for local private schools in California, visit the National Center for Education Statistics website and use the private school search tool at Users may search by location, religious affiliation, school type and more.

Choosing a School

Choosing the right school is important so be sure to research each one before deciding. Contact the school by phone or by visiting its website, which is a valuable source for school district statistics and curriculum. Talk to people in the area, especially friends and colleagues who already live there.

If the school shows promise, schedule a visit and bring a list of written questions about student-teacher ratios, computer availability, extracurricular activities, sports programs, music programs, gifted programs and grading standards.

Discuss the potential school with your children: what they like and what they didn’t like. Your family’s ability to readily adapt to a move and to find happiness in your new home may depend, in part, on how happy your children are in their new school.


Carpinteria Unified School District

1400 Linden Ave.

Carpinteria, CA 93013 805-684-4511 

The Carpinteria Unified School District has an enrollment of about 2,300, serving students living in the Carpinteria Valley, with district boundaries reaching south to the Ventura County line and north to the community of Summerland. The district has eight schools: four elementary schools, one middle school, one comprehensive high school and two small alternative high schools. Seven of the eight schools are within the Carpinteria city limits. One elementary school is in Summerland.

Goleta Union School District

401 N. Fairview Ave.

Goleta, CA 93117 805-681-1200 

Goleta Union School District has an enrollment of more than 3,700, serving students who live in the Goleta Valley, a suburban community of 80,000 people that includes the newly formed city of Goleta. The district has 10 schools, all kindergarten through sixth grade.

Guadalupe Union School District

4465 Ninth St.

Guadalupe, CA 93434 805-343-2114 

The Guadalupe Union School District has an enrollment of more than 1,200, serving students who live in Guadalupe in northern Santa Barbara County. The district has one elementary school, kindergarten through fifth grade; and one junior high with grades sixth through eighth.

Lompoc Unified School District

1301 N. A St.

Lompoc, CA 93436 805-742-3300 

There are nine elementary schools, two middle schools and three high schools in the Lompoc Unified School District. Additionally, there is an independent study school for grades K through 12. The district has an enrollment of 9,800. The district serves students living in Lompoc, Vandenberg Village, Mesa Oaks, Mission Hills, Vandenberg Air Force Base and rural areas adjacent to these communities. The district offers a wide range of programs for students with special needs. There are specialists at all levels who provide support for bilingual, migrant, gifted and handicapped children.

Orcutt Union School District

500 Dyer St.

Orcutt, CA 93455 805-938-8900 

The Orcutt Union School District has an enrollment of more than 5,000, serving students living in northern Santa Barbara County. There are six elementary schools, two junior highs and one K-12 charter school. The district also has an early learning center that offers a free half-day preschool program for children from low- to moderate-income families. For more information, call 805-938-8588.

Santa Barbara Unified School District

720 Santa Barbara St.

Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-963-4338 

The Santa Barbara Unified School District has an enrollment of more than 15,300, serving students living in Santa Barbara and Goleta. The district has a child development program for pre-K through third grade. There are 13 elementary schools, four junior high schools and five high schools. These include two year-round elementary schools, a two-way language immersion charter elementary school and an alternative high school of choice.

Santa Maria Joint Union High School District

2560 Skyway Drive

Santa Maria, CA 93455 805-922-4573 

The Santa Maria Joint Union High School District was established in 1891 as one of the first high school districts in California. The district has an enrollment of 7,550, serving students in ninth through 12th grade living in Santa Maria. The district has three comprehensive high schools, one continuation school and a variety of alternative educational programs, a Migrant Education Program to support migrant families and an English Learner Program.

Santa Maria-Bonita School District

708 S. Miller St.

Santa Maria, CA 93454 805-928-1783 

The Santa Maria-Bonita School District has an enrollment of nearly 17,000, serving students living in Santa Maria. The district has 16 elementary and four junior high schools.

Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District

2975 E. Highway 246

Santa Ynez, CA 93460 805-688-6487 

The Santa Ynez Valley Union High School District has an enrollment of 1,024, serving students living in the Santa Ynez Valley. The district has two high schools, including an alternative school with smaller class sizes and individualized programs for students who find traditional education unsuited to their particular needs.

Universities/Higher Education

Vandenberg AFB Universities

Santa Barbara County offers plenty of opportunity for continuing education. Notable is that in 2013 Santa Barbara City College was awarded the Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence. The prize recognizes institutions for outstanding achievement in student learning outcomes, degree completion, labor market success in securing good jobs after college and facilitating minority and low-income student success.

Use the following contact information to start your search for the school that is right for you.

Allan Hancock College

800 S. College Drive

Santa Maria, CA 93454 805-922-6966 

Antioch University Santa Barbara

602 Anacapa St.

Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-962-8179 

Fielding Graduate University

2020 De la Vina St.

Santa Barbara, CA 93105 800-340-1099 

Music Academy of the West

1070 Fairway Road

Santa Barbara, CA 93108 805-969-4726 

Pacifica Graduate Institute

249 Lambert Road

Carpinteria, CA 93013 805-879-7305 

Santa Barbara Business College

303 Plaza Drive

Santa Maria, CA 93454 866-749-7222 

Santa Barbara City College

721 Cliff Drive

Santa Barbara, CA 93109 805-965-0581 

The Santa Barbara & Ventura Colleges of Law

20 E. Victoria St.

Santa Barbara, CA 93101 805-979-9860 

University of California, Santa Barbara

1210 Cheadle Hall

Santa Barbara, CA 93106 805-893-8000 

Westmont College

955 La Paz Road

Santa Barbara, CA 93108 805-565-6000 


Libraries offer learning, recreation and an internet connection free for users. Santa Barbara County has a number of public libraries to serve readers. In addition, school libraries that support the curriculum and offer internet access and other resources are in most public and private schools, and academic and special libraries are found in colleges and universities.

Santa Barbara Public Library 

The Santa Barbara Public Library has a central library and six branches. Services include internet access, online databases, children’s reading programs and many other programs and events. Check the website for hours or call the library.

Santa Maria Public Library

Main Library

421 S. McClelland St.

Santa Maria, CA 93454 805-925-0994 

Check the website for branch locations and hours.

Lompoc Public Library System

501 E. North Ave.

Lompoc, CA 93436 .805-875-8775 

Check the website for branch locations and hours.


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