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FOOTHILL RANCH : Ground Broken for Elementary School

Officials broke ground Wednesday for the first elementary school in Foothill Ranch, an event cheered by parents who have been pushing for the school.

“It’s another point in our crown,” said Jeff DuBowe, president of the Foothill Ranch Homeowners Assn. “We just can’t wait for it to be finished.”

The school, situated on a 12-acre site next to Borrego Park near Bake and Portola parkways, will become the 26th in the Saddleback Valley Unified School District when it opens for about 650 students in 1995.

Those celebrating the ground breaking were greeted by the sounds of grading work at the school site, which features panoramic views of the Saddleback Valley.

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Dignitaries attending the ceremony included state Sen. John Lewis; Barry G. Hon, president of Hon Development Co.; the superintendents and trustees of both the Orange County Department of Education and the Saddleback Valley Unified School District, and other business and civic leaders.

School officials said the project concludes years of work and cooperation by the district, county, Foothill Ranch Company/Hon Development and parents and civic leaders in the community.

Officials originally saw a need for the school in 1986, although it wasn’t until 1988 that a site was chosen for the campus, officials said.

The main challenge in building the $6.7-million school was selling the long-term bonds to fund the construction at a time when recession has slowed development in the area, officials said.

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The tax-exempt bonds for the project will be paid entirely through a Mello-Roos tax district administered by the county. Property owners in Foothill Ranch pay the special Mello-Roos assessment for the construction of schools, roads and other public amenities.

“These are difficult times, but we have found a way,” Saddleback Supt. Peter A. Hartman said.

When complete, the 47,000-square-foot school will feature a library media center, multipurpose room and computer network linking all classrooms. There will also be plenty of room to add classrooms on campus as Foothill Ranch grows and additional construction funds become available.


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