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School bond hits a roadblock

Posted: September 3, 2008 8:57 p.m.
Updated: November 5, 2008 5:00 a.m.
A local Republican committee tabled motions to support - and not to support - the Hart district's $300-million bond measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

The 38th Assembly District Republican Central Committee Tuesday was unable to make a decision on the William S. Hart Union High School District's Measure SA school bond measure, with some committee members for the bond and some against.

"So basically there was no decision made - it was tabled. None of the local Republican legislators are taking a position and neither is the 38th," Committee Chairman B.J. Atkins said. "We're leaving it to the voters to make their decision in the voting booth in November."

The 38th district represents the Republican party for Santa Clarita and some portions of Castaic.
Joe Messina, a member ex-officio of the committee who was appointed by U.S. Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, is against the bond measure.

"This should send a message to other Republicans in the Santa Clarita Valley. Taxpayers should look carefully at this new bond and they will realize all these projects were promised in Measure V," Messina said. "We need more accountability and parental input."

Paul Strickland, appointed to the committee by State Assemblyman Cameron Smyth, R-Valencia, supports the bond.

"The bond is the only way we can continue to provide the same safe and high-quality schools that we have in the past," said Strickland, a Hart district governing board member. "This is the single most important thing we can do in our valley, to upgrade our schools and to build a school in the Castaic area."

Messina is concerned that the Hart district does not have an adequate plan as to how to spend the potential bond money.

"We're not against the schools or the kids, we're just not sure about this bond at this time, the way it is written," Messina said. "We don't know how (the district) is going to build a high school and finish their current projects without a plan."

Hart district Superintendent Jaime Castellanos disagrees saying the district has a plan for the money should the bond pass.

"We have a project list, which the board has approved, and our staff has done a tentative adjustment of what each project will cost. That's pretty much what we did for Measure V," Castellanos said. "However, these are just projections using today's dollars and estimates could go up if (construction) costs escalate."

Some of the projects listed include a high school in the Castaic area, performing arts centers for Saugus and Canyon high schools and completion of modernization projects at Hart High School and Placerita and Sierra Vista junior highs.

"In order to finish the final phase of those modernizations, we need to pass this bond," Castellanos said.
Messina doesn't know how much property taxes would increase if the bond passes in November.
"People don't understand why there are different numbers out there for how much property taxes will go up," Messina said.

Measure V was approved for $30 per $100,000 of assessed valuation. The new bond, Measure SA, asks for voters to approve a $5 increase per $100,000, which would increase property taxes to $35 per $100,000 assessed valuation, Castellanos said.

"That's been in all of our campaign literature," he said.

Despite the lack of endorsement from the local Republican party, Castellanos hopes voters will approve the bond in November.

"If we don't get it this year, then we'll just have to ask again next year," Castellanos said. "The longer we delay, the more costly the projects will be, so the time for the bond is now."


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