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Suzan Solomon: Candidates speak out on Castaic high

Posted: August 1, 2009 5:46 p.m.
Updated: August 2, 2009 4:55 a.m.
In its editorial The Signal asked, "How committed are Strickland, Messina, Solomon and Jensen to keeping the Hart District's No. 1 promise to the community (a Castaic high school)?

Are they the right people? Do they have what it takes?

"They will have to prove to the voters that they have the smarts to wade through the financial reports, as well as the intestinal fortitude to stand up to the NIMBYs who will inevitably surface no matter where a high school is proposed."

To me, the editorial read like a "want ad" for a job in the classified section.

"Wanted: school board member with great communication and negotiation skills; strong understanding and experience in school finances and land acquisition for school districts; and finally possessing strong character, honesty, and integrity."

My gut response was, "I want that job!"

I want to share with you that I have the experience needed to resolve the issue of building a high school in Castaic.

I thank The Signal for allowing the candidates to respond.

My William S. Hart Union High School District candidacy is based on solid experience.

When I joined the Newhall School Board in 1999, there was only one elementary school serving the student population on the west side of the freeway.

That was Stevenson Ranch Elementary, with a student population just under 1,200.

The Newhall School District was on a multi-track year-round calendar to accommodate the overcrowding across the district.

With no school in sight for years until Stevenson Ranch Phase 4 was built, and the fact that growth was increasing steadily, we realized that we needed another school as soon as possible.

Immediately, the board, the superintendent and the district administration went to work and created an action plan that included getting the developer, Lennar, to agree (which it did) that a school was needed; to work with the former Stevenson Ranch Town Council (now the West Ranch Town Council) because the master plan design was going to change; and to work with Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich and his former deputy, Bob Haueter.

The supervisor and his staff were instrumental in moving the approval process.

It should be noted that because Stevenson Ranch Elementary was so impacted, Lennar built a temporary campus (North Campus) to ease the overcrowding at the school.

As a result, Pico Canyon Elementary School opened in 2003, enabling the school district to return to a single-track schedule, thus alleviating overcrowding district wide.

To summarize: I have the skills to work with developers; the knowledge to understand finances, land acquisition and the county planning commission process; the communication skills needed to work with the Castaic community and its Town Council; and I have a good relationship with Supervisor Antonovich, who has given me his endorsement for my election to the Hart district school board.

I want to point out that not only is the building of the high school in Castaic important, but so is the management of Measure SA (passed in 2008) which enables the renovation of the older existing schools in the Hart school district.

I have the management experience needed on the Hart school board because in 1999, the Newhall School District passed a facilities bond called Measure K with which we built J. Michael McGrath Elementary, a much needed neighborhood school on the east side of Newhall, and also renovated our existing schools.

Again, to summarize: I know how to manage a facilities bond to both build and renovate schools; I have the skills to work with developers; the knowledge to understand finances, land acquisition, the county planning commission process; and the communication skills needed to work with the Castaic community, their Town Council and Supervisor Antonovich.

The citizenry of the Santa Clarita Valley have voted to build a high school in Castaic with the passage of Measure SA.

I support that vote and am committed to building a neighborhood high school in Castaic, and the renovation of older existing schools in the Hart school district.

Suzan Solomon is a Valencia resident currently serving her third term for the Newhall School District governing board. She is a candidate for the William S. Hart Union High School District board election Nov. 3. Her column reflects her own views and not necessarily those of The Signal.


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