Hart board incumbent hoping to sit for another term
As the W.S. Hart High School Board election nears, the two incumbents who currently hold the seats up for vote have announced their plans to run for re-election.
Gloria Mercado-Fortine is one of them, having held a spot on the Board for two non-consecutive terms so far.
Mercado-Fortine is an educational administrator.
According to her, dealing with the District’s financial overruns is an important task that still needs to be completed.
Those very overruns recently made the District unable to complete several modernization projects at three local schools. Parents made a strong showing at recent Board meetings to protest the lack of funds that were promised for the projects. After some work, the Board was able to fix the problem, identifying funds to make the renovations a reality, beginning with the most critical repairs.
Another issue that Mercado-Fortine sees as imperative is building a High School in Castaic. “We made a commitment to the community to build a high school...a Castaic high school is a priority for me,” said Mercado-Fortine. She went on to say that bringing a school to Castaic is not only fair, because the residents of Castaic have been paying for education, but it will help overcrowding issues, like the one that riddled the Board earlier this year.
In that instance, the Board had to decide what to do with the 400 incoming freshman that come from Castaic every year. West Ranch High School was playing host to those students, however the school is poised to suffer crippling overcrowding issues in the very near future, despite the fact that it is less than five years old. The Board drew much heat as they weighed various options including spending millions on portable classrooms for West Ranch High, or holding extra classes at Rancho Pico Jr. High located across the street from West Ranch. Eventually, the Board settled on a plan that will send the next two years’ worth of freshmen to Valencia High, then the following two years’ students to West Ranch. After that, a Castaic High School should be close to finishing.
Mercado-Fortine was the lone dissenting vote on that issue. She said that she did not embrace the plan because there were other options that would have not displaced Castaic students as much as the one that was adopted.
While the past terms have brought challenges, Mercado-Fortine she stressed that it also has brought much success. One such issue was diversity. Mercado-Fortine sat on the diversity committee and helped to determine new plans for addressing the evolving diversity in the Santa Clarita Valley. “The district certainly got into some real negative situations in term of what some people felt in various schools that they were being discriminated,” Mercado-Fortine recalls. “So we came up with the diversity plan on how to address it, and how to make sure that all students felt safe, and felt respected and felt valued…so you know, I’m proud of that.”
A major school bond was also passed by voters during Mercado-Fortine’s run on the Board, which is touted as a big success.
Mercado-Fortine is the third candidate for the Hart School Board that KHTS has featured, a part of our ongoing candidate profiles ahead of the November elections. Check out the two other candidates: Joe Messina  and Steve Sturgeon  .