Early returns from the Lake Los Angeles area of the Antelope Valley indicated voters were almost evenly split over whether to build and operate their own high school and break away from the region's established high school district.
With only absentee ballots counted, voters in the north Los Angeles County community were approving Measure W by 26 to 25. If the measure gets a majority vote, it would allow the Wilsona School District, the small elementary district that serves the area, to begin teaching high school students.
Supporters said the change would give residents more local control over the high school education of their children. But the Antelope Valley Union High School District, which now serves the students, said the small Wilsona district could not maintain the current quality of education by operating independently.
Voters also cast ballots for a five-member school board that would take office July 1 to govern the new Wilsona Unified School District that Measure W would create. If the measure fails, the current Wilsona district and its governing board would remain unchanged.
In the early voting for the eight candidates, the leaders were four current school board incumbents--Frank Donaldson Sr., Gayle Duns, Luis Easterwood and school board President Maurice Kunkel--and Bob Miller, a state peace officer.
The last time voters in Los Angeles County agreed to a school district unification measure was in 1970, according to Marc Forgy, an official with the county office of education. A successful campaign in the Wilsona district could spur similar campaigns elsewhere in the Antelope Valley.
If Measure W passes, Wilsona officials acknowledged, they will be hard-pressed to find the money to build a new high school. They have proposed beginning with high school classes in portable facilities by mid-1991 and talked of a possible bond measure to finance the permanent campus.