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Hart moves forward with bond

Some parents lobbying to remove measure from November ballot

Posted: August 8, 2008 8:51 p.m.
Updated: October 10, 2008 5:03 a.m.

The Hart district school board has rebuffed a bid by some district parents to remove a $300 million bond measure from the November ballot.

"We're going to be criticized because we won't please everyone," school board President Gloria Mercado-Fortine said late Friday afternoon in response to concerns raised in a letter addressed to her by co-chairs of the Measure V Parents for Reform Committee.

She said the district had decided to press forward with the bond. The deadline for removing it from the November ballot is Wednesday.

Approved in 2001, Measure V provided $158 million for renovating older campuses and building new schools. The William S. Hart Union High School District takes in all public junior and senior high schools in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The spending of Measure V funds is monitored by a citizens' oversight committee.

In the letter, titled "Request to Remove School Bond from Ballot," Joe Messina, Renee Garneau-Sabol and Phil Ellis asked Mercado-Fortine and the rest of the board to call a special meeting and vote to withdraw the proposed bond from the Nov. 4 ballot.

Mercado-Fortine said she had explained the board's position to Garneau-Sabol and Ellis.

"While I appreciate their comments and concerns, the district has made a decision to move forward with the bond," she said.

Messina sees things differently.

He said the spending of bond money raised by the district isn't being handled properly.

Specifically, on the issue of management of school construction and renovation and the control of bond funds, the letter contends the district needs:
n A board that is proactive and not just reactionary
n Accurate budgets and accountability
n Checks and balances
n Transparency
n Stakeholder input

The letter also linked the November ballot measure to Castaic High School. For almost 10 years, the Hart district has been promising a high school to Castaic parents, but none has been built.

The letter states, "We believe that until a Castaic High School site is finalized and unless current Measure V Bond processes are fixed and additional safeguards incorporated into the new bond proposal, the new bond is doomed for defeat this November."

Wednesday is the last day for the county elections department to receive a resolution from a legislative body requesting to withdraw or amend a measure previously submitted for placement on the ballot.

For that reason, Messina and the others want a special meeting for Monday to pass a resolution withdrawing the bond.

Mercado-Fortine, however, contends parents and students need the bond measure, saying: "It is in the best interest of the students."


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