Hart Board Candidates Square Off In Debate
Castaic High School echoed by all to be a top priority
On Monday, October 15th, the three candidates for the William S. Hart School District Board took to the spotlight at City Council Chambers, a part of the special debate series hosted by The Signal and KHTS AM-1220.
Incumbents Gloria Mercado-Fortine and Steve Sturgeon took part in the debate, along with sole challenger Joe Messina.
Of the topics discussed were Castaic High School, responsible management of Measure V funds, and the modernization of three local schools.
While building a high school in Castaic was listed as a top priority by all candidates, there were some differing ideas as to what the most difficult future challenges would be.
When asked about the future challenges to the Hart District, incumbent Gloria Mercado-Fortine says that building a high school in Castaic would be among the biggest. “The impact that we have if we don’t build it is going to be tremendous,” she said. “The Castaic community does not want to upset Stevenson Ranch or the Valencia high school community, they want a high school, they need a high school, and we need to make sure that they get that high school.”
Mercado-Fortine also touched upon the need to get the modernizations at some of the aging District schools complete.
Joe Messina weighed in and said that money is an issue. “Money, money money money,” he said. “We still need the money to build Castaic High School, even if we find a place to put it. We need to look at the budget, we can’t keep moving forward without knowing the money we have to build with or not to build with. I’ve heard talk about going back out to a bond measure or extending a bond measure. I wouldn’t even look at that until we had budget numbers together, we knew what we had to work with and what to move forward with.”
Vocational training was another need that Messina addressed.
Incumbent Steve Sturgeon pointed to growth. “As a school district over the next ten to fifteen years, growth is our most significant issue. We’re going to grow from 23,000 students to roughly 35,000 students,” he said. “That growth means housing, additional housing and seats for students. It means finding the ability to get teachers who have the ability to afford to live here in the valley. It’s a major retention issue when a
teacher who’s starting between thirty six and forty thousand dollars cannot qualify for a home.”
No child left behind requirements and vocational training were also big issues still facing the District according to Sturgeon.
The whole debate offered up some distinct arguments for every candidate, and that can be heard in its full form right now by clicking here.
KHTS News has also done an in depth article with all of the candidates, which you can read by clicking the appropriate links below.