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VENTURA COUNTY ROUNDUP | East County / Thousand Oaks

Middle School Plan Draws Criticism

October 26, 2000|KATIE COOPER

Conservationists and parents attacked a plan before the Conejo Valley school board to use a portion of open space in Newbury Park for a fifth middle school.

Open-space advocates Tuesday said the city of Thousand Oaks bought the 20-acre Rancho Potrero site, near the Dos Vientos subdivision, to keep it free from development.

"This is a wildlife corridor connecting the Santa Monica Mountains with the Simi Hills," Mary Wiesbrock, president of Save Open Space, told the board during a study session on the district's crowded middle schools. "We ask you to keep it in a natural state."

Parents of school-age children said building a school on the site in a few years would not solve the current need for a fifth middle school. They also expressed skepticism that voters would approve a bond measure to pay for the project, which is estimated to cost between $20 million and $25 million.

Thousand Oaks City Councilman Dan Del Campo last week proposed selling the site--now temporarily occupied by an equestrian center--to the district to help solve the crowding problem. The district's overcrowding has forced some sixth-graders who want to attend middle school to remain in elementary school while they wait for openings.

School board members were also told of other options, including a recent suggestion by the Conejo Recreation and Parks District to transfer land it owns near Thousand Oaks High School. The 14-acre site could be combined with Horizon Hills School for an additional middle school that would cost between $8 million and $10 million.

Gary Mortimer, assistant superintendent for business services, said staff members would analyze the two recent proposals, adding that he expects the district to consider the issue after next month's election.

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