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EASTSIDE EYES NEW SCHOOLS DISTRICT APPLIES FOR STATE FUNDS.

Byline: Karen Maeshiro Staff Writer

LANCASTER - With a new projection that shows 2,100 homes will be built in the Eastside Union School District over the next seven years, at least one and perhaps two news schools are needed to handle the 1,000 new students the development.

The four-school district has nearly 2,900 students now and must expand to handle the influx, district officials said. Eastside Superintendent Greg Riccio is undaunted.

``It seems to be less of a challenge than I would think,'' Riccio said. ``It's 10 times that on the west side (of the Antelope Valley).''

The district currently has three elementary schools - Eastside, Tierra Bonita South and Tierra Bonita North - and one middle school, Cole Middle School.

A fifth school, Columbia Elementary, is under construction at 27th Street East and Avenue J-4, and is expected to open next fall. Students from Tierra Bonita North will move to the Columbia site when it opens.

Tierra Bonita North currently shares a campus at 27th Street East and Lancaster Boulevard with Tierra Bonita South.

Columbia is being financed by a share of a $15.5 million bond measure passed in 1997 by Eastside voters, along with state funds.

No decision has been made on how to finance building more schools, but Riccio said the district has applied to the state to qualify as a hardship district, which would mean the state would provide most of the funding for school construction.

Eastside also is in the process of forming its first special tax district on a new housing tract to help finance the building of more schools.

A housing developer has expressed interest in forming a Mello-Roos community facilities district, which would allow the home builder to pass through to homebuyers the school-building fees rather than pay them before houses are built.

The developer is Pacific Communities, which is planning 300 homes in an area bordered by Avenues K and L and 30th and 40th Streets East, district officials said.

With Columbia opening next year, the board is considering whether to adjust attendance boundaries so that students can walk to the school nearest them rather than be bused to a campus farther away.

A public hearing will held April 10 to get input from parents.

``Some students are east of 30th Street East that are now being bused to Eastside Elementary. That group of students, 134 students, would be able to walk to school at Columbia,'' Riccio said. ``We are trying to draw grids that allow the shortest distance to walk and the least amount of money spent on transportation.''

Karen Maeshiro, (661) 267-5744

karen.maeshiro(at)dailynews.com
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Mar 21, 2006
Words:439
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