2012-07-06 / Front Page
Plans for new high school inch forward
In an effort to reach out to Camarillo residents concerning a proposed high school, Superintendent Gabe Soumakian decided to hold the Oxnard Union High School District’s June 28 board meeting at Camarillo City Hall.
The school board typically meets at its district office in Oxnard.
“Substantial effort has been made not only to move the project forward but to reach out to the public and involved public agencies,” Soumakian said at the meeting.
The proposed high school is slated to be built behind the Camarillo Library off Las Posas Road on farmland just outside of city limits.
The proposed campus will be smaller than originally planned and will initially accommodate 700 students. If needed, the school could be expanded to include 1,000 students.
The $60-million project will be funded through Measure H, a ballot initiative passed in November 2004 that gave the district $135 million in bond money to renovate existing high schools and build two new campuses— one in Oxnard and one in Camarillo.
As part of the superintendent’s report, Soumakian outlined project developments that have already taken place as well as an anticipated time frame for events necessary to move forward with the campus’ construction.
Earlier in June, OUHSD was warned by the Ventura County district attorney’s office that the school district would be in violation of the Brown Act if it held a scoping meeting for the new high school’s environmental report on June 28 because it had not given sufficient public notice.
Michael Schwartz, a special assistant district attorney, said he spoke with Soumakian, who said the meeting would be a “brief progress report on the project,” which avoided any possible Brown Act violations.
The district will host a scoping meeting on July 24 at Adolfo Camarillo High School’s library to allow residents to provide input about areas of concern that need to be addressed in the environmental report.
District officials have compiled an initial study of the site and have outlined areas that require further study as the project moves forward.
A copy of the study is available at www.newcamarillohs.org.
Soumakian’s proposed timeline indicates that design and development documents will be presented to the board in September and a preliminary environmental report will be available for the board’s review in December, with a final environmental report and annexation approvals expected by spring 2013.
Two people spoke about the proposed high school during the time allotted for public comments.
Camarillo resident Jim Niles, the father of two Rio Mesa High School graduates, shared with the board his regrets that he has not done more to preserve open space in the area and that he is in support of expanding existing campuses and against building a new one.
“I’ve walked every campus in this district,” Niles said. “The people who constructed these campuses had the foresight to put these schools on a large space to allow for expansion. Rather than provide a boutique high school, cater to the needs of the most students to do the most good.”
Bill Little, a member of the citizens committee responsible for helping to plan, evaluate and design the proposed high school, said there was a diverse group of people involved in creating a vision for the design of the smaller school.
“I don’t know of any high school that gets better (by getting) bigger,” Little said. “The idea of adding to existing schools just doesn’t make sense.”
The City of Camarillo and other agencies that are affected by the environmental report will give the school district suggestions about what should be included in the report.
The city will submit an application to the Local Agency Formation Commission, which will decide whether to approve the annexation of the 27 acres of agricultural land behind the library into Camarillo.
“We want to make sure it is scoped to meet our needs as well,” said Bob Burrow, Camarillo’s director of community development.