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Developer agrees to build schools in Newhall Ranch

Posted: December 3, 2009 10:01 p.m.
Updated: December 3, 2009 10:00 p.m.
 
Newhall Land agreed this week to build several elementary schools for its massive 21,000-home development planned for the western edge of the Santa Clarita Valley.

A rough estimate calls for about four elementary schools for the Newhall School District.

The agreement also calls for the developer to provide furnishings like libraries and furniture for the schools.

The developer would be repaid by the state and other sources.

Newhall Land is working on deals with other school districts, but none have been finalized yet.

In the agreement, the developer said it would build “as many new K-6 elementary schools as are required” for the Newhall School District.

“There could be no sweeter words in the agreement than those,” said Superintendent Marc Winger.

The Newhall Ranch project, when finished, would be about the size of Valencia and stretch from just west of Interstate 5 near Highway 126 all the way to the Ventura County line.

It would bring in tens of thousands of new residents and their children.

“We have a good guesstimate of how many schools we think we’re going to need,” Newhall Land and Farming spokeswoman Marlee Lauffer said. “We also recognize that it’s hard to anticipate how many students might be generated from a neighborhood that isn’t going to be built for 10 years.”

Newhall Ranch is a 20,885-home proposed development that would consist of four neighborhood “villages” including condominiums, single-family homes and businesses.

Pending county approval next year, Newhall Land hopes to break ground in the next three to four years, Lauffer said.

The project would take 15 to 20 years to complete with schools being built as the community grows, she said.

A bigger Newhall School District

Newhall Ranch’s environmental impact report lays out estimates for how many students the project would bring: 6,404 would go to elementary schools, 1,893 to junior highs and 2,868 to high schools.

The development would heap the heaviest burden on Newhall School District.

Winger estimates that the district could grow by up to 50 percent when Newhall Ranch is built.

The district has a current enrollment of about 7,000 K-6 students and 10 elementary schools that stretch from Newhall and parts of Valencia to Stevenson Ranch.

The development will bring more students to the William S. Hart Union High, Saugus Union and Castaic Union school districts.

Updating costs
Newhall Land had a previous agreement with Newhall School District that dates back to 1995, Lauffer said.

“This updated agreement reflects the increased cost with school construction,” Lauffer said. “It completely removes the funding uncertainties from the district.”

In the mid-'90s, constructing an elementary school cost about $8 million, Lauffer said.

That number grew to about $19 million with the construction of Oak Hills Elementary School in 2005, Lauffer said.

Building an elementary school in 2009 costs about $30 million, she said.

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