The Kern High School District Board of Trustees adopted Monday evening its final 2020-21 school year budget, which allocates funds to the district’s police department.
This vote comes after the Kern Education Justice Collaborative spent all of last week advocating for the district to defund the police department and reallocate the money to provide more mental health services.
During the public comment period, many comments focused on bringing on more mental health services and support staff, which parents and advocates say will be more important than ever following the pandemic.
In June, the Kern Education Justice Collaborative launched a petition, which had more than 2,800 signatures as of Monday to defund the District’s police department.
Organizers wanted the board to approve a 2020-21 budget that defunds the KHSD police department and diverts approximately $4 million to hiring additional counselors, school-based social workers, psychologists, mental health clinicians and nurses; hiring diverse educators; implementing ethnic studies; and hiring restorative justice practitioners and removing police from all restorative justice models and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports.
In 2018- 2019, KHSD spent approximately $4 million on its police force– less than 1 percent of the budget, according to KHSD.
Last year, the KHSD employed 310 individuals dedicated to addressing the mental, emotional, and academic well being of students. The district’s budget for these support professionals is around $35 million, which is about 7.7 percent of the district’s overall 2018-19 budget.