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The best site for Castaic’s high school

Posted: July 3, 2010 9:20 p.m.
Updated: July 4, 2010 4:55 a.m.

As a parent of a Valencia High School student, I am extremely concerned about the possibility of further delays in construction of the new high school in Castaic. Even though my child would not attend there, the lack of a high school to serve the Castaic community affects those who attend other schools — and these impacts will become more significant as time passes and our valley’s student population experiences inevitable growth.

The governing board of the William S. Hart Union High School District has set a goal of opening a Castaic high school in 2013, and there are two sites under consideration: the Hasley/Sloan site and the Romero Canyon site. While I am glad to see that after a decade of stops and starts the district is finally getting down to the serious business of choosing a site, I fear that if they make the wrong choice the delays will only continue. And even though 2013 sounds far off, time is of the essence. Grading and construction must start soon to meet the 2013 target.

The truth is, one of these sites is much closer to being “shovel-ready” than the other. The Romero Canyon site, which 38-year Newhall resident Larry Rasmussen is offering to sell to the Hart district for a price below its appraised value, has the environmental clearances to start grading quickly and meet the 2013 construction window.

The Hasley/Sloan site does not have such clearances, and it faces a series of potentially complicated issues that would further delay construction, including its impacts on sensitive habitat for the endangered spadefoot toad. To put it simply, the Romero site is at the starting line, ready to go, and the Hasley/Sloan site is as much as two years behind the Romero site.

We cannot afford any further delays. If Castaic’s high school is not ready by the fall of 2013, other campuses will continue to become more crowded — and more portable classrooms are not the answer. Schools enrolled above designed capacity still only have the same common spaces, gymnasiums, athletic fields, performance facilities and other important elements of a well-rounded education.

The Valencia High campus was originally designed for 1,934 students (and its capacity with portable classrooms is listed at 2,764). Its enrollment this year was 2,967 students, a number that will surely continue to climb without a high school in Castaic.

The Hart district board has a tremendous opportunity to move the long-awaited Castaic high school forward, not only giving Castaic students the school of their own that they so richly deserve, but also addressing significant issues at other campuses in the district.

The answer is simple: Romero Canyon.


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