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Hart bond finds new favor

Shifting stance on funding issue

Posted: October 7, 2008 9:12 p.m.
Updated: December 9, 2008 5:00 a.m.

A few key ‘no' votes have switched to ‘yes' votes on the Hart district's upcoming bond measure.
The majority of the members of a group opposing the William S. Hart Union High School District's Measure SA is now backing the measure, said Joe Messina, a co-chairman of Hart Parents for Reform.

A few members of the group met with district officials who agreed to expand the scope of the $300 million bond measure's oversight committee, district officials said Tuesday.

"There were three things we asked for: Accountability, transparency, and we wanted more involvement," Messina said Tuesday. "(District officials) have agreed to give the new Measure SA committee a little more oversight instead of after sight. Because they met quite a few of what myself and (the other co-chairs) feel were the concerns of the community, we are willing to get behind this bond now."

The bond measure - which is slated for the November ballot - would give the district the funds to modernize existing classrooms, replace temporary buildings and bring a high school to Castaic.

The district would provide the oversight committee with "conceptual ideas, at the same time budgets for those projects, and thirdly the time line of the projects," Hart district Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said. "That way everyone is in the know."

The oversight committee would consist of five to 17 people from varied backgrounds, board president Gloria Mercado-Fortine said.

"We would be sharing much more information with the oversight committee," she said. "Everyone is going to be right in tune with what's been going on with the projects."

This information is typically discussed at board meetings but this would allow all oversight committee members to be formally informed, she said. The quarterly reports will share much more information on a more consistent basis, she said.

Messina is on the oversight committee for Measure V, a bond measure approved in 2001.

"Bring us the plans on the front end, bring us the thoughts and ideas on the front end. Let us get involved," Messina said. "Then in the end it's much easier for us to say they did a good job, or even though there were some pitfalls, we know they took every step humanly possible to do the right thing."

Messina would not apply for a spot on the Measure SA oversight committee, he said.

Not all of the approximately 18 members of the Hart Parents for Reform group - which consists of parents and current and past Measure V oversight committee members - are willing to back the bond, Messina said.

"There are some that feel we're just caving," he said.

Measure V was approved in 2001 to collect $30 per $100,000 assessed valuation. The new bond asks voters to increase that amount by $5 per $100,000. If the measure passes it would raise the annual property income tax on a home worth $400,000 by $20 per year.


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