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High school construction moves forward as planned

Gyms and auditoriums to be finished by fall

Posted: January 12, 2009 7:17 p.m.
Updated: January 13, 2009 4:55 a.m.

District officials will use more than $5 million in leftover Measure V funds to complete construction on two incomplete auditoriums and two noisy gymnasiums at two local high schools.

Hart district officials hope students at Golden Valley and West Ranch high schools can use the upgraded auditoriums and gymnasiums in August or September.

"We're very pleased that we're moving forward with the project," said West Ranch High School Principal Bob Vincent.

Both high schools gymnasiums lack tolerable acoustics.

"The echo in there is terrible," said Golden Valley Principal Sal Frias. "It's hard to hear a simple conversation if you're speaking on a (public address) system."

The district assigned engineers to work on the acoustic designs. Those designs could come before the William S. Hart Union High School District board during its February meeting, Gapper said.

The Santa Clarita Valley's newest high schools have uncompleted auditoriums, leaving students to practice and perform in classrooms or at off-site locations.

"It does become a challenge when you want to get that stage performance," Frias said. "You have to count on other schools to use their facilities."

The theaters lack lighting, a sound systems, seating and curtains, the principals said.

District officials plan to start the bidding process for the construction of the performing arts centers "very soon," said Rob Gapper, chief operations officer for the district.

Gapper anticipates the total cost of completing the two auditoriums to run near $5 million, but a final number will be determined during the bid process.

Although the construction timeline depends on the district's authorization, Gapper puts a timeline for the completed projects near the 2009 fall semester.

The construction would put students from the two high schools on the same footing as the other William S. Hart Union High School District students.

"It's part of the delivery system to all of our students in terms of equity," said Steve Sturgeon, district board of trustees president.

Both schools were built using state funds, known as hardship funds, Sturgeon said.

When a school is funded as a hardship school to relieve student crowding, district officials adhere to state standards but receive less money.

"We scaled back Golden Valley and West Ranch to accommodate state budget requirements," Sturgeon said.

That left the auditoriums and gyms incomplete.

Through Measure V funding and anticipated state funding, the Hart district is able to build out the schools according to its own standards, Sturgeon said.

SCV voters approved the $160 million Measure V in 2001.


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