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New Castaic High sites on the menu

Town Council may be apprised

Posted: September 18, 2008 8:46 p.m.
Updated: November 20, 2008 5:00 a.m.

Hart district officials are focusing on a short list of four possible sites for the long-awaited Castaic high school, a school board member said Thursday.

"We hoped to have announced a site before Labor Day," said Steven M. Sturgeon, member of the William S. Hart Union High School District board. "We're invited to the Castaic Town Council meeting in October and, at that time, we should be able to give them something."

The meeting is scheduled for Oct. 15.

Castaic residents have been awaiting a high school campus for more than 10 years.

In 2003 the district signed an agreement with developer SunCal for a site in the proposed NorthLake development, overlooking Castaic Lake.

But on Monday, Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. of New York - the 158-year-old investment bank that funded many of SunCal's land development projects - declared bankruptcy.

Sturgeon, responding to a report in The Signal that the Lehman bankruptcy could make the NorthLake project, and related high school site even more unlikely, said the bank's troubles were irrelevant to the four sites being considered.

He declined to identify the locations.

"(The bankruptcy filing) does not deter the Hart board from making sure one gets built," he said.

Despite the Lehman bankruptcy, it doesn't matter who funds the construction of the new campus, Sturgeon said.
John Kunak, president of the Castaic Area Town Council and longtime advocate for a Castaic high school, said he is skeptical.

"If these guys are going to come and tell us they've found a site, I'm going to need more," Kunak said Thursday. "I want an absolute guarantee."

Joe Messina, a former school board candidate and critic of the district's proposed November bond measure, shared Kunak's caution.

"I would say if they have good news and they have something in writing ..., I will rejoice with them," Messina said. "But if its just verbiage, then I'm not interested."

Sturgeon and other Hart district board members hope November's $300-million bond measure will enable them to build more schools, including a high school in Castaic.



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