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Make Castaic High a Bond Priority

Posted: March 3, 2008 9:56 p.m.
Updated: May 3, 2008 5:01 a.m.
We sympathize with the governing board of the William S. Hart Union High School District.

Looking back through The Signal archives, we see a sad collection of headlines that trumpet repeated assurances and disappointments over the construction of a high school in Castaic.

As recently as a year ago, a hopeful headline declared, "Developer Vows to Deliver High School to Castaic."
But far too often, those hopeful headlines were followed by ones telling of delays, disappointments, furious parents and overcrowded schools.

Now, it seems, the board has finally recognized that a certain developer's promises of a high school site, dating back more than seven years, are as empty as the land the firm owns.

Recently the school board, declaring a shortfall of some $77 million in funds for building and rebuilding its schools, acknowledged it must start from scratch on Castaic high school.

But first, it wants to hire consultants to conduct a survey. To the tune of $45,000.

"We have to specify the projects of importance," one of the consultants told The Signal in an interview. "This survey will seek out what is of interest to the community. For instance, (residents) may be asked 'How important is building a performing arts center?'"

We recognize that in the scheme of things - considering the construction shortfall is more than $77 million - just $45,000 in consultants' fees isn't a whole lot.

And we commend the board for wanting to meet the needs of the community.

But to us, it seems just a little thick-headed to wonder about whether or not the community needs/wants/demands a high school in Castaic.

It's not just Castaic parents who care about this, though the ways in which their needs have been ignored over the years is appalling.

We would bet that every parent who has kids at West Ranch or Valencia high schools - both of which are overcrowded with students from Castaic - would be happy to inform the board of the importance of a high school in Castaic.

We'd wager they would charge considerably less than $45,000 to impart that information.

Furthermore, this whole survey idea strikes us as just another delay tactic. And the longer things are delayed, the more they will cost when they are finally built.

Performing arts centers are wonderful additions to high schools. Santa Clarita Valley high school students have made remarkable achievements in performing arts, and they deserve places to showcase their talents, thereby enriching their communities.

But when it comes to levels of importance, that doesn't quite stack up to community schools themselves.
The Hart school board is looking at two issues regarding bonds: To continue raising funds through 2001's Measure V bond set; or to issue a brand-new bond measure.

We urge board members to sever the question of a Castaic high school from any surveys or other actions that might cause further delay, and to use whatever means possible to get that school going.

We'd love to trumpet this headline: "Ground Broken on Castaic High, at Last!"


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