District Seeks $44 Million for 2 Santa Clarita Schools

Times Staff Writer

Faced with overcrowded schools, William S. Hart Union High School District in the booming Santa Clarita Valley will ask the state for $44 million to build a junior and senior high school.

The board unanimously voted Wednesday to seek funds for a 1,200-student junior high and an 1,800-student high school. Sites for the schools have not been chosen.

Trailers and temporary buildings have been erected for additional classroom space at Hart, Saugus and Canyon high schools in the Santa Clarita Valley, said James Bown, district director of support services. Each school was built to accommodate about 1,700 students but attendance at each exceeds 2,100, he said.

District officials hope to open the new schools in September, 1991.

"By adding more temporary buildings, we know we can get by to that point in time," said Bown, "but just barely. No matter how nice a portable you put up, it doesn't give you room for lockers, food services, student parking or just room for more bodies on campus."

And the crowding will worsen, community planners say. About 30,000 to 50,000 new homes are anticipated in the Santa Clarita Valley by 2010, more than doubling the area's current population of 120,000.

The estimated cost of the junior high is $14 million. The senior high school would cost $30 million.

"When we're talking about that kind of money, we're not talking about buildings with anything fancy," Bown said. "They'd be the bare minimum, according to state formula--without a football field, without landscaping and with a limited number of special facilities for things like computers."

Whether the state will provide funds for the new schools is unknown. A recent survey by state officials found that school construction and reconstruction requests by local districts will top $4 billion in the next few years, considerably more than can be provided by the $800 million earmarked for such projects in a bond election last year, Bown said.

If the state denies the district's request, voters might grant it, Bown said.

Local propositions to be decided in a June 2 election would tax land developers an average of $6,000 for each new house in the Santa Clarita Valley. Revenues would be funneled into school construction in the valley's four elementary school systems and its one high school district.

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