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Hart District Eyes More Bonds

Posted: February 26, 2008 12:08 a.m.
Updated: April 28, 2008 5:01 a.m.
The William S. Hart Union High School District is more than $77 million short in funds to build new schools and renovate old ones, board members have been told, and they agreed to hire a consultant to help them decide where the money should come from and how it should be spent.

The board's Growth Committee recommended that the board approve a motion to pay TBW&B consulting to survey Santa Clarita Valley residents and determine the best way of obtaining the much-needed funding for such capital projects as the elusive Castaic High School.

The decision comes down to two options: One, to continue raising funds through the Measure V bond set in 2001, a tax of $30 per $100,000 of assessed real estate through an approved extension of the measure; or, two, to introduce a brand-new bond measure.

"We need to survey the public to see what's important," board member Steve Sturgeon said Monday.

It costs money to find money, according to the information supplied by the district's Growth Committee.

The Hart district now expects to pay $25,000 for a phone survey and an additional $6,500 per month (not to exceed $20,000) for a consultant.

The bottom line means the consultant hired to assess the feasibility of extending Measure V will cost about $45,000.
Sturgeon said it's a little more involved than simply making phone calls.

"There are other issues involved," he explained. "We have to specify the projects of importance. This survey will seek out what is of interest to the community. For instance, they may be asked 'How important is building a performing arts center?'"

Jared Boigan of TBW&B said Monday that it's all about gauging community values.

"The goal is find out where your community stands," he said. "Parents and non-parents have to decide what facility improvements are needed.

"It's much less about dollars than it is about uses."

A high school in Castaic has been planned for years while a housing development that it was pegged to languished. The school bonds now being considered by the board could include money to buy a Castaic high school site and build on it.

The Dolinka Group, a public finance and facilities planning consulting firm, informed the board that its shortfall for new schools and for renovating old ones amounted to $77,687,000.

It showed the district that the cost of its ongoing capital projects - fixing old schools and building at least one new one in Castaic - is short by 19.6 per cent.

Hart is the public school district for all seventh- through 12-grade students in the Santa Clarita Valley.

Sturgeon, who during the last election named Castaic High School a priority, said the school issue would be one of those listed on the survey presented to Santa Clarita residents asked to choose between extending the current bond measure or allowing for a new one.

The most worrisome pie chart shown during Dolinka's presentation was the one titled "Facilities Uses of Funds (2007/2008 to 2014/2015)."

More than $300 million, of nearly $400 million in funds, is split between improving existing schools and building Castaic High School.

Fixing old schools in the district will cost about $158 million over the next seven years, or about 40 percent of the available funds.

Building Castaic High School will cost about as much, at $148 million, or 37 percent of the funds allotted.


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