Kern High School District trustees have a packed agenda Monday night, considering a comprehensive sexual education program one trustee has reservations about; a multi-million dollar land purchase; and whether student athletes should get a pass on PE class.
And the Dolores Huerta Foundation plans to lead a protest of the board’s decision last year to allow Concealed Carry Weapon permit holders to bring firearms on campuses.
Big property purchases
The Kern High School District will consider purchasing almost 300 acres of property, much of it in the far western reaches of Rosedale in closed session.
The seven parcels are separated into three different areas; all are agricultural lands owned by either Kevin William Bonderov, JCFA Ranch, Kern Delta Water District or Victor and Ana Deisy Galvan, according to a staff report.
Those properties have an assessed value of more than $2.26 million, but would likely fetch more in a transaction.
District officials plan to develop high schools on the land, but it could also be used for Career Technical Education centers, Trustee Jeff Flores said.
Williams proposes athletes get PE credit
Trustees will also discuss waiving Physical Education class requirements for students who participate in school and private club sports.
Bringing forward the idea is Trustee Mike Williams, who has facilitated a debate over the matter on his Facebook page.
At issue is whether physically fit students enrolled in extracurricular activities ought to be required to take a PE course some say is overkill. Others argue those PE courses have educational merit regardless of whether students participate in other sports.
Williams said in his post that cutting PE requirements would allow student athletes opportunities to take other elective courses, “maybe more STEM classes.”
Students participating in “regular school-sponsored interscholastic athletic programs carried on wholly or partially after school hours” may be exempt from PE classes, according to board policies.
When a Facebook user asked about overhauling PE courses, which Williams said don’t challenge student athletes, he balked.
“Ever try to turn an iceberg?” Williams wrote. “Trust me the only thing that will change school PE is competition. And students choosing other more challenging activities is the only way you'll get the existing PE to improve for those that are there.”
But Williams later said he would want to bolster PE classes while still providing waivers for athletes.
“Make the classes worthwhile, challenging, and one that can make a difference in the lives of our further adults,” Williams wrote.
It isn’t the first time such a proposal has been made. State Sen. Jean Fuller, R-Bakersfield, proposed legislation in 2015 that would have provided PE exemptions to rodeo competitors. It failed to pass the Assembly Education Committee.
Still unclear in Williams’ proposal is how KHSD would ensure private clubs meet state content standards.
“I think we could come up with a reasonable standard,” Williams said, adding clubs would pay for and provide oversight.
Sex ed standards
The board will also hold its first-reading of a policy that would bring the district into compliance with a state law passed last year overhauling sex education courses.
That law, the California Healthy Youth Act, mandates that districts provide instruction that recognizes alternative sexual orientations, provides examples of same-sex relationships and teaches pupils about gender identity and expression. It also makes teaching sex ed a requirement by law — something the district has been doing for years.
Despite the option for parents to opt their children out of the sexual education courses, Williams has expressed displeasure with the board policy. He referred to it on Facebook as having the state’s “hidden agenda” built in.
The policy redefines “‘norms’ that students will be taught that would offend the belief systems (religious and otherwise) of most KHSD families,” Williams wrote Thursday. “Is this what you want?”
The new board policy, which would be approved in April, comes after Kern County Department of Public Health Services officials launched a campaign highlighting alarming rates of STDs among teenagers. When they asked for trustees’ help, Trustee Bryan Batey said there wasn’t anything the district could do to reverse the trend, and Williams said it wasn’t the high school district’s responsibility.
Roughly 6,658 15- to 19-year-olds living in the Kern High School District’s boundaries contracted one or more STDs between 2011 and 2015, according to public health records. Not all of those teenagers necessarily attended KHSD schools.
Group wants gun policy rescinded
A group of protesters organized by the Dolores Huerta Foundation plans to ask trustees to reverse policies allowing Concealed Carry Weapon permit holders to bring firearms to high school campuses.
The group has gathered more than 2,000 signatures of people opposing the policies, which were approved in June and November. The first allowed non-employee CCW permit holders to bring firearms to campus with a $1 million insurance policy and written approval from Superintendent Bryon Schaefer. The other gives CCW-holding certificated staff members the opportunity to bring guns to campuses, however regulations have not been drafted.
“Permitting more guns on high school campuses is dangerous. Having ready access to guns actually increases the risk of homicide. This puts over 37,000 students at risk,” the Dolores Huerta Foundation said in a press release.
The policy for teachers passed in November with a 3-2 vote, however DHF officials have said that could be rescinded since a new board member, Joey O’Connell, has replaced Chad Vegas, who voted for the policy.
O’Connell has given no indication he would favor rescinding the policy, nor has he taken a public stance on the issue.
KHSD trustees meet at 7 p.m. Monday at the district board chambers, 5801 Sundale Ave.