SAN JUAN CAPISTRANO : Designs Approved for 2 New Schools

Capistrano Unified School District officials have approved conceptual designs for two new schools in San Clemente and the Rancho Santa Margarita area as the district's biggest building drive in at least 20 years continues.

By the end of summer, the district expects to have seven new schools under construction. Their total cost, including land, will be about $130 million.

"In my 22 years in the district, I never remember more than three schools under construction at one time," said William F. Dawson, assistant superintendent of facilities and support services.

At this time, the district has four schools under construction: Aliso Niguel High School, Aliso Viejo Middle School, Malcom Elementary in Laguna Niguel and Bathgate Elementary in Mission Viejo.

The elementary schools, along with three others in Laguna Niguel, San Clemente and Aliso Viejo that are nearing the start of construction, are due to open for the 1994-95 school year, Dawson said.

Last week district trustees unanimously approved the conceptual designs by the architectural firm of Porter Jensen Hansen Manzagol for a middle school in San Clemente's Forster Ranch development and one in the planned Las Flores community near Rancho Santa Margarita. The Las Flores school will also serve students in parts of Mission Viejo, Rancho Santa Margarita, Coto de Caza and Dove Canyon.

Recently the board awarded contracts for the construction of Hidden Hills Elementary School in Laguna Niguel and Lobo Elementary School in San Clemente.

The district is also seeking bids from firms to build Wood Canyon Elementary School in Aliso Viejo.

Officials say the building drive is the culmination of many years of work to secure necessary funds from the state and other sources.

In addition to state funds, the construction is making use of developer fees and special Mello-Roos taxes paid by homeowners in some communities especially for new schools.

The state, with its ongoing budget problems, has only been approving funding for projects where a district can put up half the money, Dawson said.

With the new schools, the district, which has about 30,000 students, will be able to catch up with growth and ease crowding at existing schools, Dawson said.

"If the district continues to grow as it has, by the time we get them all open, they'll be full," he said.

For future growth, the district is preparing plans for two other elementary schools and working on an environmental impact report for a high school.

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