Hart district to look at spending $20M on new gym A/C 

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The William S. Hart Union High School District will be looking at plenty of new things at Wednesday’s regular governing board meeting. 

On the agenda, posted to the district’s website on Friday, are a presentation on additional air conditioning units for gymnasiums at the seven high schools in the district and a proposal to adopt girls’ flag football as a sport. The agenda also notes a closed session item that concerns appointing a new principal.

The presentation on air conditioning units is set to be done by Architecture for Education, according to the agenda. The report by A4E shows that the total estimated cost for upgrading the buildings will be $20.36 million.

Temperatures inside of district gyms can reach 85 degrees, according to the agenda, leading schools to mitigate that by “using large, high-powered fans and scheduling practices early, before the hottest part of the day.”

“With athletic teams relying on the gymnasiums for year-round practice (basketball, volleyball, etc.) and the summer heat extending further into fall,” the agenda reads, “staff retained A4E to explore the cost and other impacts of adding air conditioning to the district’s high school gymnasiums.”

Castaic High School, constructed in 2015, has the highest estimated cost at $5.65 million.

According to Mike Otavka, the district’s director of facilities, planning and construction, none of the schools had air conditioning in gyms as part of their initial plans, including Castaic. He went on to say that the cost is not simply for the units, but also to reinforce the older buildings up to code.

Otavka said that while some gyms are better equipped to handle heat surges, it is more cost-effective to install the units at every school at once rather than doing it every couple of years. He did not get into specifics as to why Castaic’s cost is roughly $3 million more than the average cost, saying “that’s what the engineers are going to discuss at the board meeting.” 

The governing board is also scheduled to vote on whether to approve girls’ flag football as a sport on Wednesday, with Hart High School, Valencia High School and West Ranch High School set to form teams should the vote go through. 

“Over the past year, groups of students and parent representatives have met with district staff and administration to prepare a proposal for the adoption of girls flag football as a financially self-sustaining interscholastic sport at Hart, Valencia, and West Ranch high schools,” the agenda reads. “The district is satisfied that the group has met the essential requirements set forth in (Administrative Regulation) 6145.1, which details the process for adoption of a new sport.” 

The district is also scheduled to honor two coaches on Wednesday, one current and one former.  

Brett Croft, the head coach of the Hart High girls’ soccer team, is set to be honored after being named the coach of the year by the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section for the 2022-23 season. He led the Indians to the Southern Section Division 2 title before winning the CIF state Division 2 Southern Regional Championship. 

Former Valencia High School softball head coach Donna Lee is also set to be honored after she was inducted into the CIF Southern Section Hall of Fame. Lee won a national championship and was named national Coach of the Year during her time with the Vikings.

Also on the agenda is a presentation on school culture and academic performance at Bowman High School from school Principal Nina Zamora. 

The Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley will also be requesting that the Sierra Vista Junior High School Clubhouse be renamed the “Thomas E. Dierckman Clubhouse – Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley,” in honor of Dierckman. 

According to a letter from the Boys & Girls Club, Dierckman’s “visionary leadership and tireless dedication have been instrumental in developing the partnership with the district and securing essential funding for the construction of the clubhouse.” Dierckman has served on the organization’s board of directors since 1997, according to the letter. 

The Hart district governing board is scheduled to vote on the renaming of the clubhouse on Wednesday. 

Updates from John Minkus, president of the Hart District Teachers Association, and Janice Dennington, president of the California School Employees Association Chapter 349, on the contract negotiations between the district and the HDTA are also expected, per the agenda. 

The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at the district office located at 21380 Centre Pointe Parkway. 

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