2009-09-04 / Front Page

New high school put on hold

District officials say campus likely a decade away
By Michelle Knight knight@theacorn.com

Oxnard Union High School District does not plan to build a new high school in Camarillo anytime soon but has decided that making improvements at Adolfo Camarillo High School will be a top priority.

In a study session in Oxnard last week, Superintendent Bob Carter presented trustees with a list of facility improvements he developed with Assistant Superintendent Randy Winton.

Carter told the board that, after several discussions with City Manager Jerry Bankston about future growth in Camarillo, a new high school won’t be needed for 10 years or more.

City officials foresee no largescale housing developments on the horizon that would call for another high school in Camarillo, Carter said later.

“There will be a new high school in Camarillo; there’s no question about that,” although it’s unknown when, he said.

Topping the list of 25 improvements for the district’s one alternative and six comprehensive high schools is the purchase of land to build another high school in Oxnard. Second on the list is building an $11-million performing arts center at Camarillo High.

Also, several other projects at Camarillo High are among the district’s top 10 facility improvements. They include building a swimming pool and outdoor theater, establishing a technology magnet school, replacing stadium lighting, paving the upper parking lot and constructing a greenhouse for floriculture classes.

“Staff ’s No. 1 priority is Camarillo High School,” Carter told the board.

Winton said it’s possible for the district to undertake multiple projects at a time. Oxnard Union has had more than 50 projects under construction at one time, he said.

At Rio Mesa High, the district plans to build a larger and more modern facility for the hospitality, tourism and recreation courses, fix broken concrete in the quad area and replace stadium lighting with more energy- and cost-efficient lighting.

The district has about $170 million available now for 19 of the facility improvements, Winton said, including a $135-million bond that has yet to be issued. If the board wants to make the rest of the improvements, the district might be eligible for additional government funds, he said.

Those projects would include building a solar photovoltaic field at Rio Mesa High and a second gymnasium at Camarillo High. Carter said the district may partner with the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District to build the $14.6million gym at the high school.

Winton told the board that because it’s been widely reported that construction bids are coming in at 20 percent less than expected, now is a good time to begin building projects. He said most of the projects on the list could be completed in three years or less.

Building a new campus for Frontier High School is No. 19 on the district’s todo list. The district wants to move the alternative high school from the Camarillo Airport because it isolates the school from the community and limits the resources the district can take advantage of, Carter said. If the school was in an industrial area in Oxnard, the district could partner with nearby businesses to develop creative curricula and vocational training, he said.

Among the improvements the district plans for its other schools are replacing the condemned swimming pool and visitors bleachers at Hueneme High, building swimming pools at Channel Islands and Pacifica high schools and modernizing the facility at Oxnard High for the hospitality, tourism and recreation courses.

Trustees are expected to discuss the facility improvement list at the Sept.

23 meeting. After the list is finalized, perhaps in October or November, construction can begin soon thereafter on several projects, including the swimming pool at Camarillo High, Carter said.

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