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Castaic school progress stalled

Vote put off on choosing company that will pick between two sites

Posted: February 5, 2010 10:31 p.m.
Updated: February 6, 2010 4:55 a.m.
 
The Hart district board this week delayed a vote on taking the next step on the way to building a Castaic high school.

The next step will be approving a contract for an independent company to figure out which of two possible sites would be the best place to build the school.

"We believe that this master plan will provide board members with the information they need to make a very informed decision," said Rob Gapper, assistant superintendent for the William S. Hart Union High School District.

In November, Hart board members narrowed down the list of potential sites for a much-needed high school in Castaic to the Hasley Sloan and Romero Canyon properties in Castaic.

The Castaic community has waited about a decade for a high school of its own. High school students living in Castaic now attend West Ranch and Valencia high schools, which have faced issues with student overcrowding.

Board members Wednesday delayed voting on the contract, worth about $570,000 with Vanir Construction Management, until the Hart district could clarify parts of the contract.

"The board would like us to make certain that the consultants that are working with Vanir are consultants who are independent of any relationship with either of the two properties," Gapper said.

The Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation owns the Hasley Sloan, which is located off Sloan Canyon Road site. Local developer Larry Rasmussen owns the second property, which is located in an undeveloped area off Romero Canyon Road.

The two landowners have completed geological and civil engineering studies, but the Hart district wants to complete outside, independent reports.

Both property owners addressed the board Wednesday, asking that the district use the studies, performed by the same consultants, that have already been completed.

"What we're looking for is thoroughly independent consultants that have had nothing to do with the two properties," Gapper said.

The board also wants the studies to address the questions brought up during the Nov. 18 meeting and that any "fatal flaws" are brought up to the board immediately, Gapper said.

A fatal flaw would be a problem with either of the two sites that would significantly impact the cost and timeline of building a high school in Castaic.

The Hart district maintains a goal to open a Castaic high school in 2013.

Hart district officials hope to bring the contract before the board at the Feb. 17 meeting. Gapper also hopes to bring the consultants for the environmental impact reports for vote at the next board meeting.

Once the contract is approved, Hart district officials expect the studies to be done in June.

"The most important thing is that we get a thorough study," Gapper said. "In my mind, the timeline of June would be subordinate to our need to have a very thorough study completed."

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