In response to scores of angry parents, students and teachers who packed a school board meeting, Huntington Beach Union High School District trustees Tuesday night repeatedly denied having plans to close Ocean View High School in Huntington Beach.
Rumors of a "secret plan" to close the high school have swept the Huntington Beach area in the past two weeks. The rumors began in the midst of budget cutting by the district last month. They gained steam when a community newspaper printed a story about the possible closure of Ocean View High, which has an enrollment of about 2,600 students.
"This (rumored closure of Ocean View High) is simply not the case," said Bonnie Castrey, president of the Board of Trustees, at Tuesday night's meeting. " . . . The board has never directed any committee or administrative body to investigate the closing of any school nor has it identified target schools."
But concerned people in the audience expressed skepticism at the trustees' denials. One Ocean View High parent, Barbara Boskovich, read to the trustees from minutes of the trustees' meeting on Feb. 10. According to those minutes, Trustee Linda Moulton at one point said that the board one day must consider closing a school. Later in the same meeting, the minutes indicated, Moulton asked the district staff if there is excess property the trustees might consider selling.
Value of Property Cited
The minutes quote Assistant Supt. Lee Eastwood as answering that the district's most valuable property is Ocean View High, situated at Gothard and Warner avenues in the midst of a booming commercial area.
Trustee Brian Lake told Boskovich that the minutes she read were out of sequence and didn't mean trustees were considering closing and selling Ocean View High. "I will vote against closing Ocean View High School," he said. "Each of us (trustees) has made that statement."
Boskovich later told reporters that she believes she obtained "by fluke" minutes that included part of the trustees' closed meeting on Feb. 10. "I was here at the public meeting, and I don't remember any of these things being discussed," said Boskovich, pointing to parts of the minutes, including the discussion of Ocean View High's property value.
Castrey, however, told reporters that no minutes are kept of closed meetings. She added that "it would have been illegal" for the board in closed session to discuss shutting down a school.
Twelve people, including Boskovich, addressed the board Tuesday night, all voicing fears that the school would be closed.
Roy Batelli, a teacher at the high school, said Ocean View High gives a sense of community to residents. "It is difficult to get a small-town feeling in Southern California, but a school does provide a hub, a central place of identity that gives the community the cohesiveness it needs," he said.