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Castaic high school opening may be delayed to 2016

Posted: March 21, 2013 6:18 p.m.
Updated: March 21, 2013 6:18 p.m.

The opening date for the long-planned Castaic-area high school may be pushed back to 2016, despite plans to open it a year earlier.

Throughout the process of preparing to construct the school, the William S. Hart Union High School District has projected it will open in August 2015.

But during a meeting of the Hart governing board Wednesday night, district Chief Operations Officer Ben Rodriguez said work has not begun on the project, mostly because the district has yet to secure road access to the school site in Romero Canyon.

To this end, members of the district’s governing board voted Wednesday night to approve road easements for two properties adjacent to the site.

An easement is a legal agreement that allows an agency to use a property it does not own.

These easements will allow the district to build a road for the purpose of transporting construction equipment to the site, Rodriguez said.

The process for securing access to the site has somewhat delayed the project, Rodriguez said, but the goal is still to have construction boots on the ground by early April.

Once the district secures access. site preparation — grading and setting up utilities in the area — will take 12 to 13 months.

While Rodriguez said construction could begin before grading was fully complete, it would still take 24 to 26 months to build the school.

“So this would take us to an opening of not earlier than 2016?” said district board member Steve Sturgeon.
Rodriguez acknowledged that is the way the time line is shaping up.

“If we can in any way humanly possible, we will push the project forward,” Rodriguez said.

District spokeswoman Gail Pinsker said Thursday the goal remains opening the school in 2015.

“However there is a possibility that we are going to change that in the future now that we are getting closer to the actual process,” Pinsker said.

One option to accelerate the opening date is to accept ninth-grade students only before all the construction is complete.

By adding programs and classes gradually, the district could complete construction on buildings set aside for more advanced classes.

Potential growth at other Hart district schools could put pressure on Castaic high to open earlier.

Superintendent Robert Challinor said Valencia High School could have a population of 3,400 to 3,500 students by the time the Castaic-area high school opens its doors. The school was built for about 3,000 students.

“Is it more prudent to open with two grades or one grade initially?” Challinor said. “We won’t be sure until the school is ready to open.”

Despite potential delays, Challinor said he is still optimistic about the project.

“I want to emphasize we are closer today than we have ever been to opening the school,” Challinor said.

Rodriguez, however, is tempering his reaction.

“I’ll be excited when I have somebody up there with a shovel,” Rodriguez said.
On Twitter @LukeMMoney




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