By Collin Breaux | Email: cbreaux@picketfencemedia.com | Twitter: @collin_breaux

The Capistrano Unified School District Board of Trustees approved a resolution to protect students, teachers, and staff from “potential significant impacts and harm from encroaching projects” amid concerns about proposed toll road extension alignments that would convert Los Patrones Parkway into a toll road or add toll road lanes to the I-5.

Trustee Gila Jones brought forth the resolution, which passed unanimously during a regular meeting on Wednesday, Jan. 15. Language in the resolution said Caltrans and the Transportation Corridor Agencies (TCA), which published information on the proposed toll road projects in August 2018, “did not give the District accurate notice of these projects, and District staff only became aware of these projects through media and other public outlets.”

Trustees said the toll road projects could affect nearby schools, students, teachers and educational staff, particularly if there were an accident.

“The expression is we’re going to defend these schools,” Board of Trustees President Jim Reardon said during the meeting.

Further language in the resolution said Caltrans and the TCA did not consult with the District on “how to properly protect pupils, teachers, and parents” and “it is inequitable for the District to be forced to fund mitigation of the impacts caused by development projects that threaten the health, safety, and well-being of pupils, teachers, and parents.” The resolution also said comments about potential environmental impacts must be made during the comment period.

In other CUSD news, the Board of Trustees also heard a presentation about an early college partnership plan with Saddleback College for Capistrano Valley High School (CVHS) students.

The goal is for CVHS students to have a framework for an associate degree. Three pathways mentioned were in automotive engineering technology, business, and information communication technology.

“The business pathway is very versatile. It doesn’t limit them into one industry or another,” said Susan Holliday, associate superintendent, education services. “It has a high labor market demand in many areas of Orange County. It has a lot of interest among our students as well. The average earning in business and entrepreneurship is about $91,000.”

The pilot program would launch in fall 2020 with a target enrollment of 100 students for the first year. CUSD will work to educate students and parents about the program.

The Board of Trustees also approved designating Clarence Lobo Elementary School as a Title I school. Approximately $123,000 in Title I funds will be reserved for Clarence Lobo Elementary, though other Title I schools will not receive less funding. Title I funding is intended to help disadvantaged students with academic achievement.

Trustee Amy Hanacek said a safety resolution regarding the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS)—similar to the one passed about the toll roads on Jan. 15—should come before the board at a future meeting, noting the community should be made aware of developments with SONGS. Language addressing SONGS was originally included in the Jan. 15 resolution but was then taken out at the request of Trustee Martha McNicholas, who said the District has communicated with Southern California Edison. Trustees said they supported a separate resolution addressing SONGS. McNicholas said similar resolutions have been previously passed by the Board of Trustees

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