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What to watch in 2007 in education

Parochial school construction

It’s been a long journey for St. Catherine of Siena Catholic school, which has been planning to demolish its school and replace it with a larger, more updated campus.

The contruction was first halted with a one-day stop-work order from the city, followed by the possible discovery of a threatened bird, the gnatcatcher, on the property.

If the bird does indeed live on the property, the school may have to revise its plans to accommodate its habitat.

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The biggest issue to date, though, was the sudden decision by the state Coastal Commission that two drainage ditches located on the property should be classified as “streams,” and given environmental review.

The larger implication of the Coastal Commission’s ruling is that actions by the city on properties that contain such streams in Laguna Beach are appealable to the Commission.

This ruling trumps the city’s own local coastal plan, which has been in effect for years, but did not classify such waterways as streams. The commission said that it has the power to define the waterways despite the existence of a local coastal plan.

With the Commission’s ruling, a local decision on the proposed project may be appealed to the state panel.

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The school, along with the Diocese of Orange, sued the Coastal Commission in mid-December challenging the decision as a “power grab,” as described by Paul Beard, an attorney for the Pacific Legal Foundation, which represents the school in the suit.

Laguna Beach resident Lisa Marks made the argument to the commission that it should review the school project.

City Manager Ken Frank vigorously disagreed, stating that the “stream” ruling is unfair to owners ofthousands of parcels in the city that contain such waterways.

District Superintendent search

The main focus for the Laguna Beach Unified School District’s new Board of Trustees will be the search for and appointment of a new superintendent.

But first the board must hire a search firm. They will interview a final list of possible search firms next week, and intend to appoint a new superintendent in the months ahead.

Current superintendent Theresa Daem said in July of 2006 that she would resign by the end of the 2006-2007 school year.

"” Candice Baker

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