Monday’s Kern High School District board meeting was scheduled to start at 7 p.m. But 7:15 came and went with no sign of the five trustees.

Then the clock read 7:30, and still no one appeared on the dais.

The audience area, however, was crowded and the people seemed hungry for satisfaction. More than 150 people, mostly residents of Lamont, Greenfield, Arvin and other small rural communities, had gathered outside before the meeting to assert that their representation on the board is poor to non-existent.

They want change, they say. They want two majority-Latino trustee areas. And they are losing patience.

“For too long, communities of interest have been ignored,” Jose Gonzalez, of the Lamont Chamber of Commerce, said with two busloads of people standing on either side of him.

The buses were supplied by the Vineland School District, whose superintendent, Matt Ross, was also at Monday's meeting in support of a redistricting plan offered by the Dolores Huerta Foundation, one of several groups represented at the pre-meeting gathering and press conference. 

Ross is concerned that the plans created by the district "maintain the status quo in order to maintain the incumbency" of the board.

"They draw the lines to protect themselves," he said.

District trustees began the process of redrawing their voting areas in mid-March in an effort to deliver more representation to Latino-majority communities following a judge's ruling that the Kern County Board of Supervisors' district lines violated federal law.

The criteria takes into account population equality, compliance with the federal Voting Rights Act, maintaining communities of interest, and other considerations.

The district must include at least two trustee areas that are Latino-majority.

Finally, at about 7:40 p.m., the meeting went into open session. After several other agenda items were completed, Shelley Lapkoff, a demographer with Lapkoff and Gobalet Demographic Research, began describing to the board the changes that had been made since the last public comment sessions.

Following her presentation, trustees didn't say much, although Board Vice President Bryan Batey sounded ready to support Lapkoff's version.

But public comment was next, and there were many present who had signed up to speak.

The comments continued past press time.

But the concerns appeared to mirror those expressed earlier.

The Dolores Huerta Foundation proposed new trustee area boundaries at the April 9 board meeting. And those present were supporting it.

Three of the five board members live within a few miles of one another in the Bakersfield's northwest, organizers said. And that’s a sign that something is seriously amiss.

“There is something systematically wrong with the Kern High School District board,” Gonzalez said.

Lamont residents are still looking for a high school in their community.

(11) comments

Aurore518

According to an article written by the Bakersfield Californian on 9/12/17, KHSD requires at least 2,000 students for a new high school while only 1,150 Lamont students attend Arvin high. The article also states that Arvin high can handle 3,000 or more students with a current population of 2,600. If this is the case, then money should be put into Arvin high to expand the campus rather than build a new Lamont high school. I am sorry Lamont students have to be bused in to school each day, but so do many other Kern County students who live in smaller rural communities. What about funding for building a new school in Lamont? What is the projected population growth for Lamont? Are new homes being built in Lamont? New construction contributes money to new school funds. This whole redrawing of the boundaries may not solve or change the issues that has kept Lamont from getting a high school all these years. Will Lamont get a high school in maybe the next 10 years? Maybe, but until the student population warrants the building of a new school, I can't support it.

Leadership

Interesting that you didn't question the article in the Bakersfield Californian on 9/10/17. If you notice they didn’t include the number of students from Weedpatch, HillTop, and Sunset Area’s that attend other schools like Mira Montes and Golden Valley they just focused on the Lamont students attending Arvin. There’s more students than the KHSD likes to show as they like to play around with the numbers to justify their decisions. They don’t like people questioning. Unfortunately they have imposed a 2,000 student requirement on the Greater Lamont Weedpatch Area which is a form of discrimination on this community. If you don’t remember Independence High School didn’t meet the 2,000 student’s requirements, they only had 822 student when the school opened, but it was ok to invest there even though it took several years for the school to get to the 2,000 students. The following schools didn’t meet the students required either Ridgeview only has 786 students when open and Centennial High only had 893 students when open. Check the department of education enrollment numbers. Golden Valley had 1,087 students not meeting that requirement by KHSD they didn’t meet it the following year either. Mira Montes High School only had 1046 students when open in 2008 and they say we don’t have enough kids, please! Busing even 1,150 students is crazy that’s a whole school! Interesting that you ask about funding Measure K and Prop 51 gave them access to funding. It’s interesting that this board wants to take the funding from Measure K to the North West to build a high school where they live, it’s that interesting! By the year 2021 Greater Lamont Area (Lamont School District, Vineland School District, General Shafer and Di Giorgio) will have transferred 1743 students into the KHSD more than enough for a High School. By the year 2025 students in the KHSD from these areas will be 1848 students. Thank you for your opinion, but maybe you should do some research instead of relying on what the KHSD tells the newspaper.

Leadership

Interesting that you didn't question the article in the Bakersfield Californian on 9/10/17. If you notice they didn’t include the number of students from Weedpatch, HillTop, and Sunset Area’s that attend other schools like Mira Montes and Golden Valley they just focused on the Lamont students attending Arvin. There’s more students than the KHSD likes to show as they like to play around with the numbers to justify their decisions. They don’t like people questioning. Unfortunately they have imposed a 2,000 student requirement on the Greater Lamont Weedpatch Area which is a form of discrimination on this community. If you don’t remember Independence High School didn’t meet the 2,000 student’s requirements, they only had 822 student when the school opened, but it was ok to invest there even though it took several years for the school to get to the 2,000 students. The following schools didn’t meet the students required either Ridgeview only has 786 students when open and Centennial High only had 893 students when open. Check the department of education enrollment numbers. Golden Valley had 1,087 students not meeting that requirement by KHSD they didn’t meet it the following year either. Mira Montes High School only had 1046 students when open in 2008 and they say we don’t have enough kids, please! Busing even 1,150 students is crazy that’s a whole school! Interesting that you ask about funding Measure K and Prop 51 gave them access to funding. It’s interesting that this board wants to take the funding from Measure K to the North West to build a high school where they live, it’s that interesting! By the year 2021 Greater Lamont Area (Lamont School District, Vineland School District, General Shafer and Di Giorgio) will have transferred 1743 students into the KHSD more than enough for a High School. By the year 2025 students in the KHSD from these areas will be 1848 students. Thank you for your opinion, but maybe you should do some research instead of relying on what the KHSD tells the newspaper.

Ed

Why is Vineland School didtrict providing bus services, employees and fuel to a non school function? The monies used can provide more education and supplies for the students instead of taking money from them. Looks to me the Huerta foundation and Mr Ross have their own interest instead of the
children’s. Surprisingly Vineland does not have High School age children they only go from k-8...... I understand the request for a High School in the area but you have 5 separate Districts in the area. Maybe they should be combined and eliminate some of the waste. Kern County alone has 47 separate and wasteful Districts. It could be a precursor to building a High School for the area.

Lamonster

A very good question, indeed. Why are school resources being used for a political event? Is this an example of what we can expect from the new KHSD?

Leadership

Actually I found the Vineland School Districts actions rightfully justified as parents and kids are worried about their future going into the Kern High school district. I don’t see how any parent that cares for their kids’ education wouldn’t worry about what their child is going to be faced with after they leave Vineland School district. I found the leadership at the Vineland School District to be commendable unlike other schools and school districts. It’s interesting that both your comments weren’t about the issue. The redrawing of the District lines which is the real issue. Three trustees living within the same area is not the right balance of power for our communities, no wonder the Lamont Area can’t get a High School with 60% of the power in the Northwest which means they have all the say. I would question that. Why should one area have all the say in the District? Why is the KHSD wasting tax payer dollars and time? They hired council and a demographer, for what! To not have fair boundary lines. To try and keep everything the same, why? What are they hiding? What so important they need to keep all the power in the North West? Why are they comparing the District’s boundaries to the Supervisor Boundaries per the Luna Case? The KHSD doesn’t represent the whole county. They don’t represent Delano, McFarland, Taft, Wasco…ETC. It doesn’t make any sense for them to try and act like they do because they don’t represent the whole county. I actually applaud the Dolores Huerta Foundation for pointing all these things out. As a worried parent myself, I worry about the overcrowded schools like Arvin High that affects the kid’s ability to learn and it leads to issues like fighting, bullying, overworked teachers and staff. But this board thinks everything ok around there districts. I question that.

Lamonster

There is more than one issue here and the reason I commented as I did is because I don't dispute the need to adjust the boundaries. What I question is the use of education tax dollars to provide transportation for one side to bring in supporters of it's views. If these parents are as concerned for their children's education as you say, and I'm sure they are, they would find a way to attend and have their voices heard. Make no mistake, this issue is political and the people who approved using school funds for political purposes should be called on it.

LamontWeedpatchforaHighSchool

So you agree that the KHSD Board is making a political event out of this? And potentially dragging this on to the point where it costs the KHSD more money. Monies that could better serve students. They can simply choose to redraw equitable redistricting lines but instead choose to play politics to hold on to their incumbencies that serve their agendas and to their advantage while holding fair and equitable representation for ALL children in Kern County hostage.

Lamonster

Yes, of course it's political. But no, I don't agree that it's all the board's doing. How is it that it's so easy to ascertain the "agenda" of the current board members but not recognize the agenda of the opposition, which is to gain control for themselves. As I said before, I don't dispute that the boundaries should be adjusted, but it should be because of changing demographics in the district and not for the purpose of empowering a political philosophy of either stripe. It should be about providing the best chance for a quality education for all the students.

LamontWeedpatchforaHighSchool

"Title II and other grants", I suggest you read up on them and maybe that will ease your concerns over "wasteful" spending. Grants are easily made available to the Vineland School District and others so that communities like ours, "hold local educational agencies and schools ACCOUNTABLE for improvements in student academic achievement." No one in the Vineland School Disitrict is taking money from our children. Grants are provided and are being used to seek a better future for these same students in these communities. "Looks to me the Huerta foundation and Mr Ross have their own interest instead of the children’s." SERIOUSLY? How exactly would Dr. Ross benefit from building a high school in Lamont? Dr. Ross is a Superintendent that is simply carrying out his job with the upmost integrity. He has our utmost respects because he is a TRUE leader. He sees the needs of our children on a daily basis and chooses not to ignore or dismiss them. He doesn't take the easy way out but instead chooses to fight back not for himself but for the children he serves. He chooses to get vocal and fights for WHAT IS RIGHT! Which is something we CANNOT say about KHSD Board members and others like them. It takes TRUE LEADERSHIP, SELFLESSNESS, PASSION for children to place children and their education above money and politics.
As for Dolores Huerta this woman and her organization are a nuisance to those that are accustomed to maintaining the status quo. A status quo that is outdated and needs to be uprooted so that ALL children regardless of where they live in Kern County are given the same opportunities as everyone else's children.

Leadership

I think Lamonster needs to read up on all the different types of funding that is given to schools instead of just assuming one source of funding for schools. Did you all know that the KHSD is distributing dollars aimed at low income, English Language learners and foster youth district-wide. This is not cool! There's areas with more low income, English language learners, and foster youth students then other areas, that's where those funds should go! East Bakersfield, Lamont, Arvin, Weedpatch, and Hill Top have a High concentration. That's where the majority of those funds should go!

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