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Growth needs costly for Hart

first_imgShe estimated that the average local taxpayer in 2006-07 was paying about $24 per $100,000 of property value to repay the 2001 bonds. The report recommended taking a look at the list of pending construction projects, ranking them by priority and considering changes in the scope of some. For example, the district could save about $2 million on the performing arts centers at Canyon and Saugus high schools if it cut the number of seats at each from 500 to 400. Paul Rivas, Hart’s facilities director for modernization projects, has cut some costs by switching construction methods. He suggested paring frills to keep costs down. “If we keep building our high schools to these set models, two years down the road our $150 million school will become a $240 million school,” Rivas said. “We need to look at educational space when we talk about educational equity, not the d cor inside any given principal’s office and the grandness of their ceilings. “We want quality schools and we won’t sacrifice that quality, but if there are ways to save money we will explore them.” But some board members said they are unwilling to compromise on new schools. “Keep in mind these are just suggestions and no decisions have been made yet,” Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said. “In four short years, we built two high schools and a junior high school and we almost finished the modernization of three more schools.” [email protected] (661) 257-5254 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! In the past five years, the district built two high schools and two junior highs and began modernizing three campuses, managing a rate of growth one consultant called unheard-of in California. Now there are plans to build a high school in Castaic and performing arts centers at Canyon and Saugus high schools. And more renovation projects are proposed, but will be reviewed at a later date. On Monday, the Dolinka Group financial consultants cited various ways the district could narrow its funding gap, including placing a bond measure on the June 2008 ballot. Ann Feng-Gagne of the Dolinka Group said such bonds would not increase the previously approved tax rate of $30 per $100,000 of assessed property value and would be adjusted against new, and appreciated, home values. “In 2001, voters approved a $30 tax per $100,000 worth of property value, which totaled to a $158 million bond, but since then house sales have gone up, and total assessed values have gone up,” Feng-Gagne said. SANTA CLARITA – Faced with a possible debt of more than $100 million in the next few years, the Hart Union High School District board is looking at options that include floating a bond measure next year and selling off some assets. At a special board meeting of the district Monday night, staffers and board members met with developers, financial consultants and the community to discuss ways to manage an anticipated shortfall of $124 million by the 2009-10 fiscal year. Skyrocketing construction costs coupled with the increased scope of building projects and a reduction in state funding are largely to blame for the shortfall. “A few years ago we could build an entire high school for under $80 million, and now construction costs have ballooned and to build that same school two years from now will cost 175 million (dollars),” said Rob Gapper, the district’s chief operations officer. “This is not a problem unique to the Hart district. School districts across the state are now faced with the same challenges.” last_img read more