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SCHOOL RELIEF COMING OFFICIALS SAY 16 CAMPUSES ARE PLANNED.

Byline: Amy Raisin Staff Writer

SANTA CLARITA - Sixteen campuses are in the planning stages in the fast-growing Santa Clarita Valley, but none will open for a year - and local schools are already 13,428 children over capacity.

It's been an ongoing problem for two decades in the Santa Clarita Valley, where housing tracts are sprouting up far ahead of the schools needed to accommodate the youngest residents.

Now, with voter-approved bond financing for new schools and unprecedented agreements between school districts and developers, concrete plans are being drawn to build the campuses.

``We are on target to open Bridgeport (Elementary) in August 2002,'' said Judy Fish, superintendent of the Saugus Union School District. ``The school is currently approved but unfunded. We have the funds to open on time, but we are awaiting a state bond to get that money reimbursed.''

The uncertainty of available state funds weighs heavily on school districts across the state, but the recent passage of the William S. Hart Union High School District's $158 million school construction bond ensures that a few campuses will proceed regardless.

Construction of West Ranch High School and Rancho Pico Junior High in Stevenson Ranch may begin as early as next fall, providing some needed space for the nearly 7,000 students in the Hart district who are currently taught in temporary classrooms.

Rio Norte Junior High in Valencia received state funding unrelated to the bond and is expected to open at its capacity of 1,200 students in August 2002. The Newhall School District, also buoyed by local voter-approved bond money, hopes to open McGrath Elementary in late summer 2003. Designed for 750 students, the school, located at the west end of the district, will ease the nearly 500-student excess at Newhall Elementary.

``Without Measure K funds, McGrath couldn't be done,'' said Marc Winger, superintendent of the Newhall district. ``We're able to fund the school with bond money, and we'll wait and see if the state will reimburse us.''

Pico Canyon Elementary school site is now being graded and, if plans run smoothly, Winger expects the campus to open in late summer 2003 to its capacity of 750 students - a great relief to heavily impacted Stevenson Ranch Elementary.

In the Sulphur Springs School District, Kent Frison, assistant superintendent of business, said the construction of Fair Oaks Elementary is on schedule and due to open in June 2002.

``It will hold about 750 on a traditional (single) track,'' Frison said. ``We expect that it will open to between 400 to 450 students. I think we're making good progress. We're in pretty good shape. But we're on the state unfunded list until perhaps a new state bond is passed.''

CAPTION(S):

map, 2 boxes

Map:

Santa Clarita School Coalition

Box:

(1) EXISTING AND PROPOSED SCHOOLS

(2) PROPOSED SCHOOLS

SOURCE: City of Santa Clarita
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Nov 25, 2001
Words:471
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