Increased security, improved student drop-off and a large outdoor space are just a few of the things community members said they would like to see at a new high school planned for southeast Bakersfield.

The Kern High School District held a community meeting on Thursday at Golden Valley High School to get input from the community on what they would like to see in the new school, set to open in August 2022. Attendees were split into three groups to discuss the site itself, the education space and support buildings.

“What we’re really trying to do in this first meeting is really a listening exercise,” said Chris Taylor, civic practice leader for HMS Architects, who are designing the school. “The idea is to make sure that the school is what the community and the students and the parents need and want, and work from there.”

The 250,000-square-foot school will be located at the northeast corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Road and is estimated to cost $125 million. The majority of the project will be paid for using funds from Measure K, which was approved by voters in 2016. The rest is expected to come from state funds, the district said.

The new school, estimated to serve up to 2,500 students, is the first comprehensive high school to be built since Mira Monte and Independence high schools opened in 2008, according to the district. Construction is estimated to begin in 2020.

LaDwan Beard said she feels there needs to be a security guard in the area where people come in to get into the school.

“Some schools only have one or two employees who are greeting people coming in off the street,” she said. “We need to have a security guard there with them so they’re not alone. If someone comes in and tries to do anything, there would be someone who’s trained and can deal with that right away. I feel that (the employees) are vulnerable and need to be protected.”

Gina Guzman said she would like to see a better student drop-off and pick-up system, as it can be a chaotic and time-consuming process at a lot of schools.

“Maybe you could create something where parents can just drive up, drop off the kids and exit, like a drive-thru. It should be something that’s one-way and not in a parking lot. I think that would be safer.”

Guzman said she would also like to see an outdoor covered seating area where students could eat their breakfasts and lunches.

“Sometimes we’ll have rain and some kids have to go eat their lunch outside in the rain because the cafeteria is packed,” she said. “If there’s another area where it’s covered, they don’t have to worry about getting wet. They wouldn’t mind sitting outside if it’s comfortable for them.”

Jim Rios said he would like to see a large open-air quad area at the school that could be used to gather groups of students.

“The school could do activities, pep rallies, anything that would give students some school pride,” he said. “Maybe there could be some outdoor classroom space that students could use from time to time. I think they would benefit from that.”

Rios said he appreciated that the district held the meeting on Thursday so the community could voice their opinions.

“It’s always good to be proactive and get the community to have some input on what the structure of the school is going to be like,” he said. “I think being part of the process helps the community feel more invested in the school.”

Another community meeting on the new school will be held toward the end of the month. A date is currently being finalized, according to the district. 

Joseph Luiz can be reached at 395-7368 or by email at jluiz@bakersfield.com. You can also follow him on Twitter @JLuiz_TBC. 

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