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Jun 14

Commentary: Will the Hart School Board set aside politics & take responsibility for the safety of our Children?

The shenanigans continue at the William S. Hart School Board and there is no real end in sight. Oh sure, the School Board claims that it will make a decision in July as to which property, either the Hasley/Sloan or the Romero Canyon, to build the new high school on in Castaic. But the truth is that it is all about politics now and nothing else; overcrowded schools or the how it is impacting our children don’t seem to matter; it’s all about the players at the school board and the SCV Facilities Foundation which owns the Hasley/Sloan property.

I have some simple questions for the Hart School Board members; will you take full responsibility for the well being and safety of the Hart School district children after you have made your excruciatingly, long awaited selection of the property to site the Castaic High School? Will you be fully accountable for your decision should it be based on political pressure rather than the actual facts pertaining to each property? Will you be completely culpable if the property selection endangers, injures or kills even one child because of liquefaction issues with the soils that could result in a catastrophic building failure during a large earthquake? Finally, will you stand up and take full, unmitigated responsibility if the property site you select for the new Castaic High School becomes a quagmire of delays, cost over runs, waste and mismanagement?

I wrote back in April, in a piece titled “Thank you Sir, may I have another! Hart Board sticks it to Castaic again” that the Hart School Board had convinced voters not once, but twice over the last ten years to approve bond issues totaling nearly $500 million dollars in order to get a high school built in Castaic.

It no longer is a question of financial resources but rather it is now all about making an intelligent decision as to where to site the new Castaic High School.

Squandering money on multiple studies for the two pieces of property, the Hasley/Sloan and Romero Canyon parcels, is further delaying this decision. This is all being done to placate a few who made a poor purchase of the Hasley/Sloan property at the expense of the students and their parents. The school board is up to its eyeballs now with the local politics surrounding this issue.

Further I wrote in April; “the Hart School Board seems to lack the spine or the guts, to make a decision. Instead it is playing politics with its’ indecision between the two possible properties to sight the Castaic High School; the Hasley-Sloan property owned by the SCV Facilities Foundation and the Romero Canyon Property owned by local developer Larry Rasmussen.”

Here are some refresher points for each piece of property:

Hasley/Sloan- A site in Hasley Canyon at the northeastern corner of Sloan Canyon Road and Hasley Canyon Road

  • This property was examined previously and rejected!
  • There have been questions raised as to whether there are soil “liquefaction” issues with this site. “Liquefaction is a phenomenon in which the strength and stiffness of a soil is reduced by earthquake shaking and have been responsible for tremendous amounts of damage in historical earthquakes around the world.” The State Geology Map clearly shows Liquefaction/collapsible soils for much of this site.

buildings on soil that have liquefaction

This is a photo of buildings with liquefaction/collapsible soils after an earthquake. Do you want to risk your child’s life on land that will do this to their school building?

  • It currently only has one entry point which will require an access bridge to built and a number of experts have apparently claimed it is cost prohibitive to create a second entry which is required for a school site.
  • A flood control channel must be built which will require permits from the L.A. County Flood Control, the Army Corps of Engineers, and the California Department of Fish and Game. All of which could take as long as 5 years to get those permits.
  • There is apparently no water or sanitation “will serve” letters on this property and no tentative track map.
  • And there is a plant called the Beavertail Cactus which appears to be on the endangered species watch list and will require some kind of mitigation.
  • It appears to have been owned by the SCV Facilities Foundation since 2003.
  • A neighboring community is organized and will file suit should the Hart District attempt to build a high school on this site.
  • It’s in smelling distance of a dump!

Romero Canyon Site- A site in the north portion of Castaic approximately one mile west of the termination of Parker Road

  • This property has an initial approval as a high school site from the California Dept. of Education;
  • The parcel is in the path of future development (meaning homes are currently not there, but will be);
  • The parcel is large enough to house a high school as well as other administrative buildings;
  • The high school would finish the community’s road circulation plans; and many of the permits are in process or are ready to be pulled making the Romero Canyon site the one location that can come on line the quickest for this under served community.
  • The property owner is willing to grade the site.

I also wrote about all this back in November of 2009 in a commentary titled “Hart School Board chickens-out; opts to flush more tax money” and here we are eight or so months later with the new school board still screwing around. The choice between the two proposed sites is an obvious no-brainer yet the Hart School Board can’t bring themselves to make a decisive and expeditious decision.

EarthquakeLiquefactionYou look at the photos in this commentary of what happens to buildings on soils that liquefy during an earthquake; do you want your child at risk? The Romero Canyon property is the clear choice between the two options.

At this point it is time for the William S. Hart School Board to direct the SCV Facilities Foundation to sell the poorly conceived and environmentally challenged property known as Hasley/Sloan. The property was bought with funds borrowed from the Hart General Fund so the proceeds for the Hasley/Sloan sale should be returned to that fund. Regardless if the sale is at a loss because the property was purchased at the wrong price, so be it! General Fund money should be used for General Fund purposes not land speculation.

The Hart School Board needs to stop wasting tax payer dollars and start displaying the strong financial leadership that the district residents expect and require.

The Hart School Board needs to choose the Romero Canyon property and start to fast track process to get a Castaic High School built now. The taxpayers have voted to authorize the bond money, twice, and it is and has been available to build the proposed Castaic High School.

Los Angeles County and the other State and Federal agencies are ready to assist in fast-tracking the permitting process once the choice is made. It order to have the new high school in Castaic open by the promised Fall of 2013 the Hart School Board must make a decision now to prevent any further delays in this process.

Its time for decisive action and real leadership by the William S. Hart School Board members to get the proposed Castaic High School built now!

Dave Bossert- Commentary

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer who serves on a number of boards and councils. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of the West Ranch Beacon.