It’s been nearly two decades since the William S. Hart Union High School District began exploring the possibility of a new high school in Castaic, but the delay is over with the long-awaited campus welcoming its first crop of students Tuesday.
Plans for Castaic High School began in the late-1990s, when community leaders agreed that the Castaic community should have a high school to call its own — but the district had no land or funds for the project.
The search for a location began in 2001, and multiple sites were considered before being withdrawn from consideration for various reasons.
A $158 million bond measure known as Measure V passed in 2001 and kickstarted the Castaic High School development process, according to district officials.
“It dealt with construction and modernization projects predominantly at Arroyo Seco, Canyon and Saugus High Schools,” Hart District trustee Steve Sturgeon said. “There was also some activity related to Hart and the measure did have a component for Castaic. It was to review and study potential sites that could be elected.”
But the residents of Castaic felt they shouldn’t have been overlooked because they needed a school in the local area.
Castaic resident Flo Lawrence said back in 2008, “We voted for Measure V, and saw the money go everywhere but to our community.”
As a result, Hart District trustees weren’t sure if the community would support another bond measure.
During a special meeting of the Castaic Area Town Council, former Hart District Superintendent Jaime Castellanos informed a room full of frustrated Castaic residents that there was no timeline to build a high school in Castaic and it likely wouldn’t open until at least 2012.
Trustees admitted at the time that plans for Castaic’s high school had fallen through due to financial issues and other challenges, but they were hopeful they’d be able to get a bond measure on the upcoming November ballot.
The Hart District was able to secure a voter-approved $300 million bond measure known as Measure SA, which listed a Castaic-area high school as one of its top priorities.
“It was actually the No. 1 priority,” Sturgeon said, adding that, at the time, the school was expected to be completed between 2012 and 2014.
Hart District trustees unanimously agreed in July 2010 to select Romero Canyon as the site of what’s now known as Castaic High School.
“The 5-0 vote means the William S. Hart Union High School District will begin a preliminary environmental impact report on the Castaic property owned by local developer Larry Rasmussen,” Signal Assistant City Editor Tammy Marashlian reported in 2010. The decision capped off a nearly decade-long search.
Shortly after it was announced that the 200-acre site in Romero Canyon was chosen as the location for the 58-acre high school campus, some residents living in Romero Canyon began to voice their opposition.
“They were concerned about traffic and roadway access,” Sturgeon said, discussing the rural environment and ranches that scatter the area.
With a unanimous vote at a board meeting in 2013, Hart District trustees named the long-awaited Castaic school site Castaic High School.
“This is a momentous occasion for the Hart district,” said Joe Messina, a current board member who was board president at the time. “In naming the high school, we have moved that much closer to realizing a permanent home for our Castaic children.”
Residents and project stakeholders gathered to celebrate their progress at a groundbreaking ceremony held in early May 2012.
“From here, construction will begin on the school itself with the goal of opening it to an inaugural class of ninth-grade students for the 2016-2017 school year,” district officials told Signal Staff Writer Luke Money at the time.
Oct. 19, 2016
The Hart District board approved a contract to begin construction of Castaic High School.
“We are thrilled to be moving on to this next phase of construction and are that much closer to teaching students at Castaic High School,” Hart District Superintendent Vicki Engbrecht said in 2016.
The future students of Castaic High School joined state legislators, district leaders, parents and Santa Clarita Valley stakeholders on Aug. 3, 2018, at the school site to celebrate one year until the opening of the school.
The grinding and sounds of machine work rung in the background as children and adults alike attempted to guess the purpose of each building during their walk up the long road to the ceremony.
Leaders of the William S. Hart Union High School District unveiled the colors and coyote mascot that will adorn Castaic High School uniforms and apparel for years to come.
Just weeks away from opening, Castaic High School was without vital utility connections, including natural gas lines, which could have led to a delay in the school’s Aug. 13 opening, according to reports. But the crisis was averted through teamwork.
Officials from the Hart District and Castaic High School held a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday, Aug. 7, in celebration of the school’s impending grand opening.
Aug. 13, 2019
After two decades of work, the first day of school at Castaic High School began Aug. 13, 2019.
“I’m really excited,” Castaic resident Flo Lawrence said Monday. “I’m going to go out there (Tuesday) morning and welcome all the new students to school.
“It’s time Castaic had a high school,” Lawrence added. “I’m grateful for all the unnamed people who fought and helped us to get this done.
“This is a school for the next 50 years and this won’t only be the signature school for the Hart District,” according to Lawrence, “but it could possibly be one for the L.A. area and California as a whole.”