It was a heated meeting Monday night, as the Kern High School District Board of Trustees approved the “suitability” of land in southeast Bakersfield. In other words, another high school is coming to town. Leaving parents from Lamont feeling neglected.
Kern County is constantly growing. KHSD has 18 comprehensive high schools – 15 of which are in Bakersfield. But residents in outlying communities like Lamont, Weedpatch and Hilltop say – they’ve been asking for a new high school closer to home for years. And they’re not happy that Bakersfield is getting another one, while they continue to go without.
For residents of Lamont – a question of whether their children matter to the Kern High School District.
“We’re talking about 100 degrees. And I really would like for them to consider that. If the children miss the bus they have to walk in 100 degree weather,” said Gina Guzman, who has lived in Lamont for 26 years.
For the district’s board of trustees – it’s a matter of where data shows overcrowding is, or will be by 2022.
“They’ve looked at it and determined that this is the most effective area to build a school and use that tax payer money to relieve the over crowding,” said Phillip Peters, President of the KHSD Board of Trustees.
Monday night, the board voted on 77 acres of property at the northeast corner of Cottonwood Road and East Panama Lane. The land received three yes’s, one no, and one abstention. Moving the process forward for a new high school in Southeast Bakersfield by 2022.
“In terms of priority and overcrowding and where the next school has to go, the next school can’t be in Lamont,” said Scott Cole, the deputy superintendent for KHSD.
Students who attend Arvin High School come from all over Kern County.
“The community of Lamont has been asking for a high school since 2006,” said Jose Gonzalez, the president of the Greater Lamont Chamber of Commerce.
Last school year, some 1,400 students were bussed from the Lamont and Weedpatch communities to Arvin High. The Arvin High busses make 70 stops every morning to pick up students – which is more bus stops than any other high school in the district.
“As trustees,” Gonzalez asked, “Why haven’t they been listening to this community?”
Peters says, “The second we have data that points to Lamont being the best place to build a high school, I’m going to be the first person championing that but as of right now the data does not suggest that that’s the best area for a high school.”
The board is planning to continue the conversation with residents in Lamont at a community meeting in September. The board also said, they are willing to begin at least scouting land in Lamont for potential future school sites.