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Year in Review: The path to Castaic high school

Year in Review: 2010 was the year Hart district selected Romero Canyon for newest addition

Posted: December 30, 2010 8:02 p.m.
Updated: December 31, 2010 4:30 a.m.
 

For the last decade, the Hart district has tried to make progress on building the highly discussed and debated Castaic high school.

In that time, high school students living in Castaic have been shuffled between West Ranch High School in Stevenson Ranch and Valencia High School, creating issues that varied from carpooling to school pride for Castaic families.
Site after site for the potential high school fell through.

The local community came together in 2008 to pass Measure SA, a $300 million construction bond with money earmarked for the school.

And this year, the 23,000-student Hart district came one step closer when it picked the Romero Canyon property as its preferred location for the school.

If all goes according to plan, the school will open in time for the 2013-14 school year.

Choosing Romero Canyon
After months of discussions and studies, Hart district board members in July unanimously chose the Romero Canyon property.

The rural Castaic property, owned by local developer Larry Rasmussen, beat out a number of other properties in the running for the site.

The Hart district considered the nearby Hasley/Sloan property. That property is owned by the Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation, a nonprofit organization that helps the Hart district locate properties for future schools.

Plans fell through on the Hasley/Sloan site when neighboring residents opposed the project.

For now, the Hart district remains in negotiations with Rasmussen over the Romero Canyon property.

In the past, Rasmussen has promised to deliver the Hart district a plot of land that is ready to construct the high school on.

Concerns raised
But the Hart district isn’t out of the woods yet.

A handful of Castaic residents, many who live next to the Romero Canyon property, have launched an effort to thwart the Hart district’s plans for the high school.

They say the rural, hilly terrain is not suitable for a school.

“We live here, and we know what this property is like,” Dean Paradise, a 20-year resident of Romero Canyon, told The Signal in August. “We know it would be ridiculous to put a high school site there.”

Many residents say the high school would create daily traffic problems for the equestrian community.

Others contend that building a school in the undeveloped area would create a “money pit” for the district, with fire dangers and unknown environmental impacts.

Study, study, study
The Hart district has called for a number of independent studies to study the Castaic site, analyzing water needs, fault lines, landslides and other environmental concerns.

In November, consultants found that the Romero Canyon site is safe for a high school and that landslides aren’t a threat.

As the other studies continue, the district continues its negotiations with Rasmussen and is gathering information for an environmental review and supporting studies for state officials to review.

If all goes according to the district’s plan, a Castaic high school could open with an initial ninth-grade class of about 900 students by the fall of 2013.

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