Paul Novak, an Antonovich aide, said delays are to be expected when a school is tied to a developer. “Even if SunCal had all the approvals for NorthLake, there is no guaranteed schedule of how quickly they can proceed,” Novak said. “In this regard, the opening of this high school is entirely dependent on how quickly the developer proceeds, which is dependent on construction costs, interest rates, and the health of the local economy.” Antonovich recently suggested another site, a portion of 450 acres on what’s called the Castaic Mesa, owned by The Newhall Land and Farming Company. Novak said the site is not meant to derail the district’s work on the NorthLake site but is a way of ensuring options are available. But Hart’s chief operations officer Rob Gapper said Antonovich made the offer public without consulting the district, which sees problems including its proximity to the county jail in Castaic and to a water treatment plant. “We are in the process of looking at that site and we will continue to investigate it,” Gapper said. “But there are some concerns we already have.” Gapper, who is in charge of construction for the district, said that in his short review of the site he’s also noted limited access and geology and environmental concerns. The site requires approval of the state Department of Education, which has stringent guidelines for school locations. Land purchased in the Hasley/Sloan canyon area by the district’s nonprofit Santa Clarita Valley Facilities Foundation also has drawbacks if reconsidered. Gapper said the district recently completed a timeline for the Hasley/Sloan site that estimated it would take four to five years to get ready. Designs would be done concurrently, but the district would need to invest an additional $2 million – already spent on designing Castaic High on the NorthLake site – for designs for the Hasley/Sloan site. Meanwhile, the environmental impact report for NorthLake was completed this month. If there is no opposition, the development could go before the county in April for review. The Hart District has said a construction-ready pad in March 2008 would allow Castaic High to remain on schedule. Hart Superintendent Jaime Castellanos said the district remains focused on the NorthLake property, having invested time and effort. “Right now we are moving straight forward with SunCal developers on the NorthLake site,” Castellanos said. Facing a possible $125 million deficit, Hart won’t consider other properties unless the money is available. For Gastaldo, a mother of two boys in sixth and seventh grades, the issue is not where the school is built, but when. “It’s about getting something built as soon as possible,” she said. “The delays that we’ve encountered, no matter whose fault they are, are unacceptable.” [email protected] (661) 257-5254 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! CASTAIC – The issue of where Castaic students will attend high school for the next four years was settled last week, but Castaic families still have one question: Where’s our school? The Hart Union High School District has three pieces of land available for the long-awaited Castaic campus, now priced at $175 million. The No. 1 choice is dependent on a large residential development that is planned; a second site is a semirural area already owned by the district and opposed by some community members; a third site was suggested by county Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich – without any input from the district. As the pros and cons are weighed for each site, patience in the community is growing thin. “I am frustrated with the lack of monitoring regarding a school site,” said Castaic resident Lisa Gastaldo. “We take one step forward and two steps back.” The Castaic saga started almost five years ago when Hart district officials realized the fast-paced growth mandated a Castaic high school. The area’s hilly landscape made the process of finding a site difficult and community opposition to certain sites – even one eventually purchased by the district’s nonprofit foundation – further delayed the project. In 2003, developer SunCal offered 60 acres on the NorthLake site for use as a high school, and all parties seemed pleased. The district would waive developer fees and SunCal would deliver the district a construction-ready site. But design and environmental issues have delayed the school further and resulted in its newest projected opening date of fall 2010. Now a slump in the housing markets adds a question: Will the land be available with or without the rest of the development?