Saugus school board to look at Santa Clarita Elementary committee 

Main entrance of Santa Clarita Elementary School on Seco Canyon Road. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal
Main entrance of Santa Clarita Elementary School on Seco Canyon Road. Katherine Quezada/ The Signal
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After making the decision in the fall to shut down operations at the campus of Santa Clarita Elementary School at the end of the school year, the Saugus Union School District governing board is scheduled on Tuesday to discuss the 7-11 committee that will decide the fate of the campus. 

The board is also set to discuss sending a letter in support of Assembly Bill 247, which would garner $29.8 million for the district to be used for campus building improvements and construction, according to a draft of the letter. 

Committee selection 

The governing board voted 4-1 on Nov. 14, 2023, to have the oldest school in the district close after the 2023-24 school year ends in June. According to the California Department of Education, Santa Clarita Elementary opened its doors in 1960. 

The next order of business for the district is to assemble a 7-11 committee — so named because it typically is composed of between seven and 11 members of the public with varying positions within the community — that would decide what is to be done with the campus. 

The committee members, per Education Code 17389, should be representative of the following: 

  • Ethnic, age group, and socioeconomic composition of the district. 
  • Business community (e.g., store owners, managers, or supervisors). 
  • Landowners or renters (preference to be given to representatives of neighborhood associations). 
  • Teachers. 
  • Administrators. 
  • Parents of students. 
  • Persons with expertise in environmental impact, legal contracts, building codes, and land use planning, including, but not limited to, knowledge of the zoning and other land use restrictions of the cities or cities and counties in which surplus space and real property is located. 

The committee’s role, per Education Code 17390, is as follows: 

  • Review the projected school enrollment, and other data as provided by the district, to determine the amount of surplus space and real property. 
  • Establish a priority list of use of surplus space and real property that will be acceptable to the community. 
  • Cause to have circulated throughout the attendance area a priority list of surplus space and real property and provide for hearings of community input to the committee on acceptable uses of space and real property. 
  • Make a final determination of limits of tolerance of use of space and real property. 
  • Forward to the district governing board a report recommending uses of surplus space and real property. 

The Santa Clarita Elementary campus has been deemed unfit for future use due to its buildings not being up to 1976 standards for earthquake retrofitting, as outlined in AB 300. It would cost approximately $25 million to bring the campus up to code, according to previous reporting in The Signal. 

Multiple community members spoke up at the Nov. 14 meeting, including some who went to the school as well as board member Anna Griese, about how rushed the process seemed. Some mentioned how they were unaware until just six weeks prior that this action was a possibility, and soon. 

Griese was the lone board member to vote against closing the school. 

Superintendent Colleen Hawkins responded to those questions by outlining the multiple community meetings that had been held in the year leading up to the decision. 

“While the word ‘closed’ or ‘closing’ was not used, it was inherent that the buildings need to be rebuilt, and we had discussions about that,” Hawkins said. 

Current students at Santa Clarita Elementary had until Jan. 15 to submit their transfer requests, and Hawkins told The Signal that every student has been successfully placed into a new school for next year. The district had affected students submit their transfer paperwork prior to the window for other students to submit theirs. 

With the campus closing in just a few months, alumni are starting to make plans to give it a proper send-off. All families of past and present Santa Clarita Elementary students are invited to a final farewell on May 18. The event will be free and will be at the school campus, located at 27177 Seco Canyon Road, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

The event is being sponsored by the Santa Clarita Elementary Parent Teacher Club, teachers and staff. It is set to include music, games and food trucks. 

AB 247 Support 

Introduced to the Assembly in January 2023, AB 247 would provide for roughly $14 billion for school districts across the state through the Transitional Kindergarten Through Community College Public Education Facilities Bond Act of 2024. 

The bill was co-authored by Assembly members Al Muratsuchi, D-Torrance, Lori Wilson, D-Suisun City, and Mike Fong, D-Alhambra. 

“California needs a statewide school facilities bond to invest in our children to meet 21st-century educational needs,” said Muratsuchi, chair of the Assembly Education Committee, in a news release. “According to the California Department of Education, 30% of the state’s K-12 classrooms are over 50 years old and 10% are over 70 years old. Californians face critical school facility needs, including transitional kindergarten and early childhood education, natural disaster response, universal high-speed internet access, lead abatement, and extreme heat and other climate change adaptation.” 

According to a draft of the letter written by board President Matt Watson, the Saugus district would receive approximately $29.8 million to upgrade campus buildings to ensure they are up to code and are allowing students to receive a 21st-century education. 

“The Saugus Union School District believes that every student and teacher has a right to safe, clean, and quality school sites,” reads the letter, which was also sent to state Sen. Scott Wilk, R-Santa Clarita, and Assemblywoman Pilar Schiavo, D-Chatsworth. “By providing the necessary resources, AB 247 would help school districts accomplish this goal. For these reasons, the Saugus Union School District supports this bill and respectfully requests its approval.” 

Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at the Saugus district’s administrative office, located at 24930 Avenue Stanford. 

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