Bakersfield High School parents spoke up at Kern High’s final public form, threatening to pull their kids out of the District if the KHSD board does not vote on a redistricting plan the parents favor.
The Kern High School District held it’s final public forum at Golden Valley High School on Tuesday. The public forum allowed parents, students, alumni, employees, and other interested attendees to express their opinions, concerns, and even suggestions about the boundary changes that are set to be instilled for the 2022-2023 school year.
“My children— the children in all our neighborhood— are being affected by the boundary changes. They will be attending West High according to the map,” Monique Polk, a BHS alum and Amberton resident, commented at the public forum. “I can’t help but think the losers of this would be actually the Kern High School District because most of us in that neighborhood, we can afford to send our kids to Garces or Bakersfield Christian High School. And when we’re angry, we just might do that.”
The KHSD provide three different map options for the boundary changes where they depict the boundary outline for the new incoming school, Del Oro, along with potential changes for various other schools in the district.
In map plan 1 and 2, the most noticeable boundary change comes from the breaking up of The Rudder. The Rudder consists of the Quailwood, Amberton, Stockdale Estates, Olde Stockdale and Laurelglen neighborhoods that lie within the Bakersfield High School boundary lines, despite the neighborhoods being closer to either Stockdale or West high schools. Plan 1 pulls the entire Rudder out of the BHS boundary and distributes it into West High, while plan 2 zones The Rudder into Stockdale High and Independence High. Plan 3, however, keeps The Rudder as it is currently; consequently, this is the plan that all Rudder neighborhood residents are urging the committee to vote on.
Each high school in the KHSD has been recognized for individual accomplishments, according to the KHSD FAQ page. Although each school is unique, all the high schools in the KHSD have strong educational program that are designed to meet the needs of the students.
Furthermore, BHS is not the only school that could be affected by the boundary changes. Between all three proposal plans, 12 other schools would also be affected: Stockdale, West, South, Independence, Ridgeview, Golden Valley, Arvin, Mira Monte, East, Highland, Foothill, and North. The only schools in the district that would be unaffected by these boundary changes are Centennial, Frontier, Liberty, and Shafter.
While most of the public forum attendees spoke in favor of plan 3 and keeping The Rudder intact, one West High parent, Jennifer Lopez, took the podium to diminish the negative portrayal that was being shaped about West.
“It’s disheartening for me to hear so many BHS parents talk so badly about West— you don’t know West,” said Lopez. “In 2018, we had a house fire and we lost everything. In that summer, we lost everything and my mother died a week later, and West High was there for us.”
Lopez said in two weeks time, Lopez got a home, and West High personnel helped furnish it.
“They brought food to us, they comforted our children,” Lopez said. “My children never missed a step. They never lost out on their grades or anything because of West High.”
She continued: “My kids weren’t going to play football because they didn’t have their cleats. They burned in a fire. That day, Mr. Davidson ran out, bought him cleats. These teachers have gone above and beyond.”
The comment section of the public forum took just over an hour to complete and consisted largely of BHS parents, alum, and students— all of which live in The Rudder neighborhoods. While the “once a driller, always a driller” motto was made clear an innumerable amount of times, there was also discernible support for the schools surrounding BHS and the other two boundary map plans.
Lisa Schimnowski, a South High Workforce Counselor, believes that most of Kern County understands that boundary changes are necessary and are mature enough to accept these changes.
“Many of our families put their trust in our school board to do the right thing by their children and create common sense boundary changes that benefit all students,” Schimnowski said via email.
The next step in the boundary change timeline comes in the form of a board presentation on Aug. 2.
On Sept. 7, the board will vote on and instill one of the three map plans. While the public forums have come to an end, concerned parties can still submit comments to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than July 16th.