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Land in Hand, But Not in Castaic

Posted: February 19, 2008 2:41 a.m.
Updated: April 21, 2008 5:01 a.m.
 
While the Castaic high school waiting game continues, officials with the William S. Hart Union High School District are expected to meet Wednesday to discuss plans for 250 acres of recently-acquired property earmarked for school use on the northeastern side of the valley.

Although Castaic High School was deemed a priority for the school board before, during and after last fall's election of school officials, Wednesday's closed door session is about property nowhere near the Castaic community and that has some Castaic politicians angry.

"I'm appalled," said Renee Sabol, a member of the Castaic Area Town Council, upon hearing news of the meeting.

"I'm appalled but I'm not surprised," she said when contacted by phone Monday. "I think its appalling to spend any money but to tell the people in Castaic that they're buying land and, at the same time, telling them we can't have a     high school.

"It's typical."

Last fall, about 250 acres in Canyon Country near Sierra Highway and Vasquez Canyon Road were purchased by a foundation set up by the Hart District specifically to buy real estate that the school board might want to consider using for future school sites.

Representatives of the Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation are scheduled to discuss the terms and conditions of 'real property' transfer with school district Superintendent Jamie Castellanos in the closed session Wednesday, according to a school memo about the meeting.

John Kunak, president of the Castaic Area Town Council and longtime advocate for Castaic High School, sees the opportunity for the Hart district to build the school through money-making land deals pursued by the Foundation.

"My understanding is that the building of Castaic High School is, supposedly, a priority for the Hart board," he said Monday. "And, I understand that they do not have money to purchase property to build Castaic High School.

"So, if the foundation is able to generate revenue from the activities of the foundation, I would hope it would generate the purchase of land for Castaic High School."

Kunak said that while foundation members are expected to discuss in secret the terms and conditions of the 250 acres in Canyon Country, a consultant representing the same foundation is expected to address publicly members of the Castaic Area Town Council on the same evening.

"If they want to move forward building homes on land they bought in the Hasley/Sloan area," he said, "I will say 'To hell with it, you're not getting to build the homes until you build the high school.'

"I will retreat from my position ever so slightly if they show me that maybe they can generate the money needed to build the high school," Kunak said.

As far as the land deal in Canyon Country, Sabol said it's not a priority.

"They don't have an urgent need for a high school in that area," she said about members of the Hart board. "And, they're waiting for their options committee to get back to the board with recommendations about Castaic High School.

Castaic residents have been waiting more than seven years for a high school.

A month ago, Castellanos told The Signal that it'll be another four years before Castaic High School is built.

"Castaic High School won't be built in the latest timetable which is 2010-11," he said in an interview Jan. 17.

The big stumbling block standing in the way of Castaic High School being built is that the school's developers SunCal Northlake LLC has not met with Los Angeles County planners, he explained.

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