OUHSD to pursue North Oxnard property for new school site

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The Oxnard Union High School District is moving forward with its plans to build a new high school in north Oxnard.

In a 5-0 vote Wednesday night, the OUHSD Board of Trustees directed staff to take the next steps necessary in acquiring the 120-acre Cooluris property north of Wooley Road and east of Harbor Boulevard as the site of a new comprehensive school campus that will serve about 2,500 students.

“The unanimous vote is very important because it demonstrates the board is functioning together and understands the need to move forward and get the ball rolling on an issue that is absolutely critical for the community,” said new OUHSD Superintendent Dr. Gabe Soumakian after his first board meeting.

“It was a positive decision because our schools are impacted with students,” Dr. Soumakian added. “It shows the Board is focused on keeping students first, a theme that I am building on.”

Trustees considered five other sites, but Board President Socorro Lopez-Hanson said they agreed the Cooluris parcel “was the best location of what was available” and would give the district the most flexibility in dealing with potential boundary adjustments in the future.

“Most of our growth is in northern Oxnard and it would be the easiest site to fit in with our other schools,” Lopez-Hanson explained.

Funding will come from the Measure H, a school bond that district voters passed in 2004 to build new schools in Oxnard and Camarillo and renovate existing campuses.

Dr. Soumakian expressed OUHSD will face some challenges acquiring the property owned by the Cooluris family but added the District will work for an agreement that is satisfactory to both sides.

Randy Winton, OUHSD Assistant Superintendent of Business Services, said he and his staff will next work with the property owner as well as the city of Oxnard, Ventura County’s Local Agency Formation Commission and the California Coastal Commission to satisfy their various requirements for the new high school.

Winton said the district faces other steps in the process such as finishing an environmental impact report that was begun several years ago. He added a district design committee that will include community members will work with OUHSD’s architect to create an architectural plan to submit the Division of the State Architect. The plan’s approval by the DSA, Winton said, is needed to “get in line” for state matching funds to build the school.

“If all goes well, the design should take about a year,” Winton said.

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