Hart board approves $2.2 million settlement for Castaic High construction

SIGNAL FILE PHOTO: Students and parents walk through campus at Castaic High School's first Back to School Night Tuesday. Cory Rubin/The Signal

The governing board for the William S. Hart Union High School District unanimously approved a $2.2 million settlement agreement Wednesday with the contractor who built Castaic High School.  

The settlement comes years after Castaic High School first opened for classes in August 2019, and stems from a number of change orders submitted by the contractors — Castaic HS Construction Inc, Romero Canyon LLC and Romero Canyon II LLC — around the time of the school’s completion.  

The latest update regarding Castaic High School construction issues comes nearly a decade after the Hart district entered into an agreement with the contractors to take the first steps toward developing the school on 198 acres of undeveloped land in Castaic.   

Over the years it had been reported, among other things, that the construction had been delayed due to rainy weather and manpower shortages. However, the district desired to have the school open by the start of the 2019 school year and the contractor successfully worked to meet that demand despite the challenges, according to the district’s legal counsel, Wendy Wiles.   

Certain aspects of the campus still required construction, repair and completion beyond the first day of school, but after years of designing, grading and developing, the newest school in the Hart district finally opened its doors to a single class of ninth graders.   

“The contractor, having completed the project, ultimately provided the district with two change order requests which are requests for additional compensation based on issues that occurred during the construction of the project,” said Wiles, who spoke during the Wednesday meeting. “And since that time period, we have spent approximately two years in reviewing these change order requests, meeting with the contractor and working through the process of determining the applicability and appropriateness of these change orders.” 

The motivation behind the process taking two years, according to Wiles, was administrators wishing to “fulfill their responsibility to protect and manage the district and taxpayer funds.”     

“The parties now desire to settle any and all disputes by way of the proposed settlement agreement,” reads the meeting agenda. “This agreement is intended to be the final settlement involving the disputes…(and) will forever resolve all issues, claims, liabilities, costs, demands, etc., related to the disputes.” 

“We are incredibly proud to be part of such a great and unique high school in Castaic,” said Randy Wrage, a senior executive for Castaic HS Construction Inc., upon news of the district approving the settlement. “Although the project was very complicated and took a great deal of time, it has ultimately become a fantastic asset for the community.” 

The $2.2 million settlement will be paid out from the district’s Special Reserve Fund for Capital Outlay Projects.  

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