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New school opening delayed

Projected enrollment far below minimum required

Posted: April 22, 2009 10:18 p.m.
Updated: April 23, 2009 4:55 a.m.
Saugus Union School District will delay the opening of West Creek Elementary School until at least July 2010 because of a projected low enrollment for the nearly completed school, district officials said Wednesday.

"For us to be fiscally responsible, we need to have a minimum amount of students in that area," said Judy Umeck, board president.

Board members signed off on the delay during Tuesday's meeting.

The current projected enrollment for the school, located near Copper Hill Drive in Valencia, is about 50 students, said Bob Cutting, assistant superintendent of business.

Generally, the district needs between 300 and 400 students for a school to open, Cutting said.

Additionally, in order to open a school, the district needs to staff the site with everything from principals to office managers.

"When we have students there, we have responsibilities for the safety and well-being of the children," Cutting said. It costs roughly $650,000 a year to operate a school, Cutting said.

Construction on the $55 million facility will be finished in September. The district will begin using the school in October, Cutting said - but not for classes.

"It will contain things like meeting rooms, so those can be used to accommodate some staff development," Umeck said. "We will put it to good use."

The district hopes the delay will allow for enough families to move to the West Creek and West Hills neighborhoods, increasing enrollment at West Creek.

"The market's turned around," Cutting said. "Things are looking a little better."


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