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New District Boundaries Won’t Split City’s Teens

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A controversial plan that would have scattered Laguna Niguel’s high school students among various campuses has been scrapped, much to the relief of many parents and their children.

“We consider this a big victory,” said Steve Gross, a Laguna Niguel resident who had objected to the splitting. “It shows the power of what happens when a community comes together and unites around an issue in a civilized way.”

The board of Capistrano Unified School District decided Monday to set attendance boundaries that will keep the city’s students together at Dana Hills High School. An earlier plan would have meant that in some cases, students on the same block would have been sent to three separate high schools. The opening of Tesoro High School in the Ladera Ranch area next fall prompted the district to start planning attendance boundary options back in September.

“I’m very relieved that my children aren’t going to be going to a different high school than their neighbors,” said Barbara Ness, one of the Laguna Niguel neighborhood organizers. “I feel like I can get on with my life again.”

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Students from Coto de Caza, Dove Canyon, Ladera Ranch, Las Flores, Rancho Santa Margarita and Wagon Wheel will be sent to Tesoro High School, according to the board’s decision.

New boundaries are becoming inevitable as the rapidly growing district of 45,000 students builds new campuses, Supt. James A. Fleming said.

“We’re never going to please everyone with the redistricting process,” he said. “But I was pleasantly surprised to hear the applause when it was over.”

The controversy over the placement of the Dana Hills High School students brought more than 150 Laguna Niguel residents to last month’s City Council meeting with 500 signatures supporting alternatives that leave all students at Dana Hills. Although there were pleased parents in Laguna Niguel after the board’s decision, there was still some grumbling about the boundaries. Besides Tesoro, the board also ruled to keep Ole Hanson Elementary School open despite the addition of Marblehead Elementary, also scheduled to open this fall.

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Fleming said the attendance for high schools in the district should hover between 2,000 and 2,200. Since Capistrano Valley High has more than 3,000, Tesoro High will relieve that crowding. In addition, Fleming plans to open a sixth high school in the district in 2005.

“We invest a great deal of time and energy into planning the redistricting,” Fleming said. “Our district just keeps on growing.”


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