SUSD board holds special meeting before Helmers housing decision

File photo of the Saugus Union School District.
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The Saugus Union School District’s governing board held a special meeting Tuesday to collect community input on student housing during construction at Charles Helmers Elementary School. 

The special board meeting was planned to hear concerns parents of Helmers Elementary had — regarding temporary student housing while the school’s campus goes under construction — before a decision is made at the next board meeting.

“Parents have been asking many questions regarding bus scheduling, and other specific things,” said SUSD Superintendent Colleen Hawkins, “but since no decision has been made yet, these meetings are meant to provide some guidance.”

During the meeting, some parents asked the board to postpone construction until a stakeholders committee can be created. Others said construction would benefit future students, and teachers expressed gratitude for the construction project.

Parents who asked for the construction to be postponed said the decision to relocate students was rushed and the board hasn’t given parents an adequate time to make a decision.

“The timeline (of the construction) was moved up from 2023 to now,” said Kerstin Schlegal, a Helmers parent. “If we had another month to have meetings and have a dialogue with the board, it would be more beneficial and would give the school the best outcome.”

In response to parents, board President Julie Olsen said holding the community meetings is important to the board because it gives parents the opportunity to voice these concerns.

“We’re going to listen to their concerns and take it all into consideration,” said Olsen. “That’s why we’re having these meetings, so we can hear people who this will affect and make the best decision that is in everyone’s interest.”

Along with parents, Helmers teachers spoke, saying construction is much needed at the campus, and will benefit future students.

“We have the opportunity to better our school, and I’m looking forward to a space to enhance our science curriculum,” said Grisanti Margo, fifth-grade teacher at Helmers. “I know this decision is to better our place of learning.”

Construction at Helmers could potentially displace more than 200 students for the next two years. The school district presented possible options of student housing during the Jan. 21 school board meeting, which included moving multiple grade levels to North Park Elementary School and involuntary transfers to other school sites.

A final decision is expected from the board during its March 10 meeting at the district office.

The Saugus Union School District office is located at 24930 Avenue Stanford, Santa Clarita.

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