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Castaic high school ‘a touchy issue’

School district candidates disagree on how to bring home a new high school

Posted: October 21, 2009 10:14 p.m.
Updated: October 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
While all of the candidates for the Castaic school district board agreed the community needs a high school of its own, they argued this week over how the battle to get it should be fought.

Candidate John Zaring argued Castaic has isolated itself and should come out to push the William S. Hart Union High School District.

"I want to change that perception," said Zaring, an event producer.

But incumbent Laura Pearson said the elementary-through-middle school district has no direct control over the matter.

"This is a touchy issue," she said. "It's not within our jurisdiction."

The argument Tuesday night came less than two weeks before Election Day as the Castaic Union School District faces state cuts and pressure from parents to advocate for the creation of a nearby high school.

The Hart district, which runs all of the high schools in the Santa Clarita Valley, is facing resistance in its search for a place to build the school, though the lack of a Castaic high school issue has been a sore spot for the community for nearly a decade.

Once children leave Castaic Middle School, parents have to shuttle them to Valencia or West Ranch high schools - which are relatively far away and becoming overcrowded.

The issue prompted voters in 2008 to approve Measure SA, a $300 million construction bond with a large chunk of funding to go toward the construction of the high school.

Pearson said she wants a high school in Castaic but opposed Measure SA because of the decisions made by the Hart district in selecting potential sites.

The Hart district has gone through a series of potential locations throughout Castaic and has faced opposition and controversy from neighbors and businesses in many cases.

For candidates Susan Christopher, an attorney, and Victor Torres, a teacher, it's about coming together as a school board and representing the community. Torres, who is running with Pearson as a team, touched on the issue of keeping together kids who leave Castaic Middle School each year.

Sehar Awan, a student support specialist at College of the Canyons, focused on resolving the conflict within Castaic neighborhoods over where to build a high school.

Over the last decade, the Hart district has faced opposition from businesses and residents who have not wanted a high school in their neighborhood.

"A lot of it," she said, "has to do with unifying Castaic as a whole."

Along with addressing the high school issue, candidates discussed issues relating to budget cuts, where they pledged to keep the cuts as far away from the classroom as possible.


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