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VENTURA COUNTY FOCUS | East County / SIMI VALLEY

Board May Consider Reopening 2 Schools

September 22, 1998|TONY LYSTRA

With as many as 800 more students than last year, the Simi Valley school district could consider opening two shuttered elementary schools by next fall.

A Sept. 16 head count had this year's enrollment at just more than 20,100 students, interim Supt. Kenneth Moffett said. The figure puts the district in line with other districts statewide, officials say.

In the coming months, officials will consider plans to maintain smaller class sizes for the primary grades. To accommodate the growth and demand for more space, the district could open the Arroyo and Arcane elementary schools as early as next year at a cost of $1.5 million to $2 million each.

Moffett said portions of the buildings are currently occupied by private schools and other groups.

Opening those schools would involve working with the state to bring the structures up to code, officials said. That would mean meeting the Americans with Disabilities Act and earthquake-protection standards, as well as refurbishing air conditioning, plumbing and electrical systems.

By opening the old schools, the district would take some pressure off crowded elementary schools, including Township and Big Springs, Madera and Wood Ranch, said Lowell Schultze, assistant superintendent of business services. But that plan is just one of several options officials could consider.

In the meantime, officials believe portable classrooms can handle the increasing enrollment, Schultze said.

Both Moffett and Schultze said the growth is likely the result of changing demographics and an explosion of new housing developments. Older residents are selling their homes and moving elsewhere and younger families are moving in.

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