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Saugus District Could Close Local School

Declining enrollments put tough decision before Governing Board.

When fall 2010 comes around, some students in the Saugus Union School District might be headed to a different school, as the District grapples with declining enrollment and state funding cuts.

The District has 200 fewer students than originally predicted, and staff is preparing to make recommendations to the Governing Board that they hope will right the ship.

"We feel it's fiscally prudent that we look at being as efficient as possible in the running of our schools," said Dr. Judy Fish, superintendent of Saugus Union School District. "So we are looking at some boundary changes, as we do from time to time, and also looking at the possibility of closing the temporary site for Bouquet Canyon School."

Bouquet Canyon School was established two decades ago, and consists of portable buildings. Dr. Fish says that the District had intended to build a permanent school on an adjacent piece of property, however a series of circumstances prevented that from coming to fruition.

"We have suspended the project that would be their new school, because we don't have our agreements with the County and the developer, and the state has frozen the construction funds, so we absolutely do not have the funds to proceed."

A proposed boundary change would absorb the student population of the school. If the Board approves closing Bouquet Canyon School, the move would likely be only part of a larger plan.

"The other recommendation that we are strongly considering making to the Board is that we temporarily relocate the Emblem neighborhood community from Emblem to a neighboring site during phase two of the modernization and construction on that campus," said Dr. Fish.

Emblem is located off Bouquet Canyon Road and Espuella Drive. The District and the Board are still discussing what to do with the students at currently at Emblem.

Dr. Fish says that the discussion is complicated because there are three groups of students who would be affected differently.

"We have the overflow of Bridgeport students, and it's our intention as we promised that community, that they would have the opportunity to go back to Bridgeport for next school year," she said. "Then we have a segment of the current Emblem population that comes all the way down from Estrella Vista and Canyon Ridge, and they go by about four schools. So what we're looking to do is locate them closer to a neighborhood school. What's being considered at this time is [James] Foster, but again, this is all just under consideration."

That leaves between 100 and 120 students in the immediate neighborhood surrounding Emblem. Dr. Fish says that the District is discussing potential locations in which to house the students, and that they're looking for feedback from parents and community members.

After the Emblem modernization is complete, the school will reopen and could house 800 students.

No decision has been made at this time, and there is still ample time for parents and community members to offer their feedback to District staff and the Board.

A study session will be held at the District office (located at 24930 Avenue Stanford, Santa Clarita, CA 91355) on January 12, 2010. At that time the Board will hear the recommendations of staff.

On January 26, 2010, the Board will hold its regular meeting, and action could be taken on the matter at that time.

Dr. Fish says that meetings are planned or have already been held with potentially affected schools' PTA groups and the District's parent advisory council.

"There is still time for input," Dr. Fish said. "And I think it's very important when you're affecting families in the community that you be as transparent as possible about the direction you believe you're going."

Dr. Fish told KHTS that the District Board welcomes communication from the affected parties, and such contact information is available at http://www2.saugus.k12.ca.us.