Construction is underway at Castaic High School site

Project manager Randy Wrage points to where buildings and athletic fields will be completed by August 2019 at the site of the future Castaic High School during a media tour on Friday, June 16, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

The site of the future Castaic High School is beginning to transform as crews and contractors finish building foundations, organize steel structures and fine-tune architectural plans.

Situated at the west end of Sloan Canyon Road where it meets Romero Canyon Road, the $126.2 million project is expected to be completed in August 2019 when the school opens to ninth grade students.

“The overall project site is about 200 acres,” said Randy Wrage, project manager for Castaic High School Construction, Inc. at a media tour of the site Friday.  “Of the 200 acres it’s about 58 acres that turns into the high school campus proper.  There are 16 buildings that total about 250,000 square feet that make up the campus.”

Once complete, Castaic High School will have a capacity of 2,600 students and will graduate its first senior class in 2023.

The high school will include a gym, administration building, Career Technical Education (CTE) building and performing arts center along with a football field, track, soccer field, baseball field and softball field.  It is also expected to have 850 parking spaces for students, staff and visitors.

The project’s main buildings will be arranged in a radial format that faces the street and creates a plaza in between.

“The school will present itself as you come over the hill,” Wrage said.

Workers pour cement into a building base at the site of the future Castaic High School on Friday, June 16, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

In February, the site was given the “notice to proceed” from the California Division of Industrial Relations (DIR) to begin physically constructing the project after completing the site’s grading, building a new roadway and installing drainage features.

“We’ve kind of gone past the type of scheduling impacts that would cost us significant time,” Wrage said.  “The easy part is what we’re doing now and actually building the project.”

Now the Castaic High School site is in Increment Two, or phase two, of the project as workers finish underground facilities and complete foundations before the high school’s walls begin to go up in September 2017.

“It’s a unique campus; it’s well-thought out into its own kind of ecosystem,” Wrage said.  “This campus probably won’t ever have a modular building out of it… It’s set up where it will probably house everyone in its buildings and that has a positive effect.”

Kemp Brothers project engineer Chad Nelson demonstrates how project plans are generated, displayed, and updated on a screen inside construction offices at the site of the future Castaic High School on Friday, June 16, 2017. Katharine Lotze/The Signal

To help construct the buildings, the project is using 3D models and an online dashboard to keep track of documents, organize plans, move things digitally and create a digital database of information.

“This is something we share with the other contractors,” Kemp Brothers Project Engineer Chad Nelson said.

Features of the site include a four-walled classroom that opens up to create a lecture hall.

“It’s a freestanding building and one of the walls opens up and accordions out,” Wrage said.  “It’s basically a 1,600-foot lecture hall that you might see on the campus of UC Santa Barbara and it’s here in the middle of a high school.”

Castaic High School will also include technical elements like “miles and miles” of internet and computer connectivity and hundreds of computer screens for classroom education.

It will also house specified CTE classrooms and programs that students from throughout the district can attend after school.

“This has been a labor of love.  My dad was a teacher at Hart, I grew up in the Santa Clarita Valley, I went to Hart, I’ve been here my entire life,” Wrage said.  “I’ve been working on this project for more than seven years so far.”

The exact boundaries from the school have not been drawn yet; however, the Hart District expects the school’s first ninth grade class to primarily be from the unincorporated area of Castaic.

“Sometime before that [August 2019] we’re going to redraw the boundaries for the seven high schools,” Dave Caldwell, public relations officer for the Hart District told The Signal in May.  “We’ll have to tackle that and bring people together to talk about that.”

Wrage said he also expects individuals to begin developing the area around Castaic High School once construction is complete.

“Generally folks develop around schools,” he said.  “My expectation is that there will continue to be development in the area.”

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