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Coming in 2010: More education cuts

More policing of parolees and drunk drivers also expected in the year ahead

Posted: December 31, 2009 6:26 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2009 6:22 p.m.
 
This year, the Santa Clarita Valley will see more police crackdowns on parolees and drunk drivers, more cuts to schools and budget balancing on the part of local governments.

Officials in several different areas have told The Signal what readers should expect in 2010:

Crime
In 2010, sheriff's deputies will crack down on parolees while California Highway Patrol officers will conduct more DUI checkpoints, officials said.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station plans to keep close watch of local parolees this year as the state starts reducing its prison
population, said Los Angeles County Sheriff's Lt. Brenda Cambra.

"We have plans to identify and monitor parolees who will be released into our community," Cambra said.

Detectives from the Community Interaction Team will be in charge of conducting additional parole compliance check-ups, Cambra said.

Sheriff's officials have received reports that the state plans to return nearly 6,000 additional offenders to Los Angeles County by the end of 2011, she added.

California Highway Patrol officers statewide also will be conducting more DUI checkpoints this year since the agency received a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, according to a CHP statement.

The grant will fund more than 2,500 sobriety checkpoints in 2010, creating a 47 percent increase from the 1,700 checkpoints conducted in 2009, the statement said.

Education
Still struggling from two year's worth of reductions in state funding, Santa Clarita Valley school districts are bracing for more cuts in the new year. January will bring the governor's State of the State address, which many education leaders fear will mean mid-year cuts to education.

The state's projected budget shortfall of $20 billion has already left school leaders wondering how much more education will have to take in 2010.

Classes at the elementary, junior high and high school level have already been increased. Support staff have been laid off and teachers have seen pay cuts to deal with less funding.

Deeper cuts are likely to be seen this year.

Saugus Union School District will decide in January whether to close elementary schools to deal with an $8 million budget shortfall next year. The William S. Hart Union High School District is bracing for a $13.5 million budget setback for the 2011-12 fiscal year and is looking at a variety of options, ranging from shortening the school year to reducing programs and initiating more pay cuts.

City Hall
To avoid a deficit the city cut millions of dollars from its budget, delayed projects and instituted a year-long hiring freeze. Now the city is hoping its fiscal management will pay off with the completion of several major improvement projects in 2010.

Officials hope the $245 million cross-valley connector will finally be completed sometime in March. When it's built, the 8.5-mile road will connect Interstate 5 with Highway 14 Freeway. Building the road has taken about two years longer than expected.

In April, three seats on the City Council will be up for grabs. So far three candidates have filed nomination papers to challenge Mayor Laurene Weste and council members Frank Ferry and Marsha McLean. The deadline to file with the city is January 15.

Newhall should see millions of dollars in renovations throughout 2010. Construction of the Newhall Library should start in June. Officials envision the library as the $25 million gateway to downtown. More than $2.5 million has also been set aside for the second phase of Main Street renovations. The second phase of streetscape is currently being designed by staff. Santa Clarita is also making more than $300,000 available to Newhall business owners so they can renovate their buildings and invest in new equipment.

The city also is planning to continue implementing its 21 point business plan. In January the city's new $200,000 tool for attracting new business, the economic development corporation, should open its doors.

County
Keeping public safety agencies strong and improving services for Los Angeles County's foster youth are among local Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich's top priorities for the coming year, a spokesman said.

Antonovich will strive to maintain funding for the sheriff's department, which serves the Santa Clarita Valley, and pressure the state and federal government to properly implement a law that would provide support for emancipated foster children, said spokesman Tony Bell.

"The needs and well-being of foster children must be a top priority and will be for Los Angeles County in 2010," Bell said.

In addition, Bell added, the county will be looking at enhancing its fire services and maintaining its parks and trails.

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