Parent Group Opposing Hart District's New Bond
Ballot statement filed by several members of Measure V Oversight Committee.
As the William S. Hart High School District prepares to market a $300 million bond (Measure SA) to voters in the Santa Clarita Valley, some community members are voicing their opposition, and asking that the District instead focus its efforts on fixing the issues surrounding the last bond that was passed.
“We are not against public bonds to help build and improve school facilities. However, without community input or guaranteed safeguards to protect taxpayers, this bond, as drafted, does not make sense,” declares a ballot statement filed by the group today.
Seven years ago voters approved Measure V, which authorized $158 million in taxpayer dollars to be raised for District projects.
Since then, some Measure V expenditures have been called into question.
The parents' group made several claims about Measure V, and KHTS contacted Hart District Superintendent Jaime Castellanos for a reply to each.
The opposition group says that the District never built a Castaic High School as promised.
Castellanos says that Measure V never included any specific promise to build Castaic High, although he claims it did include $5 million for preliminary research, site location efforts and conceptual design costs.
Another allegation against the district is that there have been $80 million in cost overruns for Measure V.
“In terms of cost overruns, we had approximately $42 million dollars,” he told KHTS. Castellanos attributes this to skyrocketing costs for steel, petroleum and other construction materials.
The group went on to say that the board refused to conduct a complete audit of Measure V funding, however Castellanos said that he could not respond to that because he didn’t know which specific type of audit the group was referring to.
The final allegation claims that the Hart District borrowed school construction money to pay district salaries.
“Measure V funds were never used for district salaries,” Castellanos responded.
The parents’ group consists of Measure V Oversight Committee members Joe Messina, Phil Ellis, Renee Garneau-Sabol, Joan Ann Curtis, and Eduardo Espana. They had previously asked that the District withdraw their new bond initiative until they do the following;
- Finalize a location for Castaic High School;
- Fix measure V financial processes;
- Work financial safeguards into Measure SA;
- Garner community input as to which school facilities should be built.
The Hart District Board and Castellanos did not agree to withdraw the bond.
Since the parents’ group is not opposed to bonds in general, their hope is that opposition to Measure SA will allow the District more time to correct bond related issues.
According to the Statement of Opposition, “Voting NO on Measure SA will force the Hart District to reconsider another bond at a later date that has the support of parents, teachers, and the local business community and makes more sense for our children and taxpayers.”