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Our View: Thoughts on the Hart board decision

Posted: November 20, 2009 3:47 p.m.
Updated: November 22, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
The good news is, the Hart district took a step Wednesday toward making a Castaic high school a reality.

After three hours of discussion, the board decided to move ahead with environmental studies on two potential sites for the much-needed school: the contested Facilities Foundation-owned Hasley/Sloan property and Larry Rasmussen’s Romero Canyon acreage.

It was likely Hunt Williams’ Green Valley Ranch property near Val Verde was never going to gain that community’s support, so the board went with its two best options.

But the means by which the ends were gained are disappointing.

From here on out, the community deserves more transparency and inclusiveness as the Willam S. Hart Union High School District board moves ahead on siting and building a Castaic high school.

The purpose of Wednesday’s special meeting was for brief review — for the first time publicly — of extensive environmental studies and engineering reports done for the three properties under scrutiny.

The public did not have a chance to review Wednesday’s PowerPoint presentations until the Friday night before the meeting.

During the standing-room-only meeting, board president Steve Sturgeon advised people to keep the public comment period free of opinions on the properties, and instead stick to specific questions about the report.

If anyone wanted to voice his or her opinion about the potential school properties, he or she was welcomed to do it at the board’s regular meeting — after the board had made its decision. Talk about throwing the tax-paying public a bone.

And while newly elected board members Bob Jensen and Joe Messina agreed with the board’s decision, that decision should have been held off until after the two are sworn in Dec. 9. That would have better served the voters who cast ballots for Jensen and Messina based on their commitment to finding a home for Castaic’s high school.

The process is far from over. The environmental impact reports will take up to a year and a half, at cost of at least $250,000 to develop.

Board member Dennis King — who finished his stint on the Hart district board Wednesday night — said the entire matter has been “more political than it should have been.”

No kidding.

The Hart district has taken longer than any other district in California to find a place to build a school, Sturgeon said. That is not a title our high school district should hold.

Here’s hoping the process is expedited, but in a way that doesn’t shut out the voice of the public which funds that process.

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