Hart district to discuss new principal, career pathways for Castaic

An artist rendering of Castaic High School sits at the entrance of the informational meeting to discuss the progress at Castaic Middle School on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018.

As construction continues to move forward at the Castaic High School Project, William S. Hart Union High School District officials are now looking to select the high school’s planning principal and choose its designated Career Pathways.

District officials described these next steps to the Castaic community during an informational meeting held at Castaic Middle School Tuesday night.

“The school is going to be a showcase of innovative programs and will have strong college and career readiness focus,” Hart district Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht said.  “It’s our goal in the Hart district that 100 percent of our students graduate college and career ready, but this is the first opportunity we had to build a school from scratch with that in mind.”

The multi-purpose room at Castaic Middle School sees a large crowd for the Castaic High School informational meeting at Castaic Middle School on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2018. Nikolas Samuels/The Signal

After nearly three decades of planning, Castaic High School is set to open to its first freshmen class in fall 2019 and is expected to be a “state-of-the-art campus” with new program features and classroom designs.

A major aspect of the district’s seventh comprehensive high school is expected to be its focus on concurrent enrollment opportunities, where students take both college and high school classes, and its career readiness programs.

“With college credits, those are things my son is excited to take advantage of,” said parent Nadia Barajas, whose son will be in the high school’s first class.

To expand its concurrent, or dual, enrollment options, the Hart district is considering opening another academy, like its current one at Academy of the Canyons (AOC), on the Castaic High School campus.

“Students who are enrolled in the academy would have similar experiences to those in AOC… but some of those college courses will be located on the Castaic High School campus,” Hart district Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services Mike Kuhlman said.  “Although it would mainly be for those in the academy, it would be available to all of the students, with those concurrent enrollment options, at Castaic High School.”

Students will also have the ability to pursue specific Career Pathway programs at Castaic High School.  Currently, the district is planning to add pathways like dental science, medical science and computer science.

“The reason we are thinking about those three of these is because we looked at labor market data,” Hart district Director of Career Technical and Adult Education Mariane Doyle said.  “We also looked at Hart district data to see where students were already enrolling and were really interested and where we seemed to have growing programs and it was in those three areas.”

These pathway programs will allow students to graduate high school with certification to begin their career and will be completed in the high school’s designated Career Technical Education buildings

“These Career Tech Ed building are separate buildings that designed and constructed in the site to have flexibility to train people today and train them in different fields in six or seven years as the need changes,” Construction Project Manager Randy Wrage said.

Planning Principal

In the upcoming months, the district is also expected to begin soliciting applications for the planning principal position at Castaic High School.

In this role, the planning principal will work with the district’s Governing Board and Superintendent’s Cabinet to form the high school’s programs, choose the school colors and mascot, determine the bell schedule and complete other tasks to get the high school off the ground, according to Engbrecht.

“We intend to bring a recommendation to our governing board in early spring with the understanding that that person would officially take the helm in June so that they have an entire year to work with the community to do outreach with our prospective freshmen class and really hammer down what the school program is going to look like,” Engbrecht said.

The district is expected to look both inside and outside of the district to determine the individual who best fits in the position.

“We fortunately can attract a large number of applications and will be including representatives from the Castaic community with the selection of the planning principal, who will then go on to be the first principal of Castaic,” Engbrecht said.

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