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Hart District to issue $80M in bonds

Vote by Hart board means Castaic high school is one step closer to reality

Posted: April 21, 2009 10:12 p.m.
Updated: April 22, 2009 10:00 a.m.
Board approval for the district to issue and sell up to $80 million in bonds means that the William S. Hart Union High School District will move forward with a mix of Measure SA construction projects, including a Castaic high school, a school official said Tuesday.

"The bond money we're going out on now puts us in a position to make the purchase and develop the site potentially," said Rob Gapper, chief operations officer for the Hart district.

Hart district officials approved a site for a future Castaic high school located adjacent to the Commerce Center in Castaic at the end of 2008.

The site is located at the end of Witherspoon Parkway.

The district is finishing its due-diligence obligations for the Castaic property, which involves analyzing the selected property's soil and understanding the grading process required, Gapper said.

Gapper anticipates that the Chiquita Canyon Landfill, located off Highway 126, will not be a concern because of its distance from the site and the ridgeline that stands between the landfill and proposed site.

"We had a representative (from the California Department of Education) come down and look at the site. He has also expressed that he believes there would be no problem with the site," Gapper said.

Part of the process involves determining the future size of the potential school, which could be between 50 and 60 acres, Gapper said.

By comparison, other schools in the Hart district range from as small as 42 acres to as large as 60, Gapper said.

"Then we'll be prepared to begin more serious negotiations with the owner of the property," Gapper said.

Gapper said it is too early to discuss the price of the property.

Even after the site is ready, the district anticipates another two to three years from that point until a Castaic high school is ready for student use, Gapper said.

The economic downturn could benefit the district's construction projects.

"The bond market right now for municipal bonds is very favorable," Gapper said. "And along with that, the bid climate is also very favorable in that construction costs are down. That benefits us and it benefits our community because we're able to get more facilities constructed for less money."

While building a high school in Castaic to relieve student overcrowding remains a top priority for the district, the bond money will go toward other Measure SA construction projects like building performing arts centers at Saugus and Canyon high schools and finishing off modernization projects at Placerita Junior, Sierra Vista Junior and Hart high schools, Gapper said.

Local voters passed Measure SA, worth $300 million, in November.


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