Community members got to take a “tour” through the proposed campus for a new high school coming to southeast Bakersfield, but Lamont residents continued their fight for a school in their town.
HMC Architects unveiled its latest design plans for Kern High School District’s 19th school during a community meeting held Thursday night at Valle Verde Elementary School.
The school will be located at the northeast corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Road and is set to open by August 2022. It is estimated to serve up to 2,500 students.
At its last community input meeting, architects and KHSD focused on what residents would like to see at the new school, such as student safety and a community feel. On Thursday, architects showed how they incorporated those items into their design.
A quad that is about one-third larger than the one at Mira Monte High School will be surrounded by seven classroom buildings, a performing arts center that will seat 600, an administration building, campus center and gymnasium. Athletic zones, which will include a three-court gym, will surround the perimeter of the school.
Civic practice leader with HMC Architects Chris Taylor said the architects included a "wide area for community functions." Most of the community use spaces will be right off Panama Lane "to make it easier to access them."
The multipurpose campus center will be available for use in the evening so students and others can eat, study or find a quiet space.
To avoid crossing parent traffic with bus traffic, bus drop-off and pick-up will be along Cottonwood Road, while parent drop-off and pick-up will be along Panama Lane. There are also designated staff, student and visitor parking lots.
Architects also integrated satellite food carts around the quad area so students can eat outside.
A video fly-through showed residents a tour of the campus.
Taylor said the farming communities seen in Bakersfield inspired the design plan.
“It’s a really beautiful knitting of fabrics and crops and things that you see from the air,” he said. “We were looking at the different crops as different subjects and how they interweave.”
All the buildings on campus are one-story and will act as the security perimeter around the school, Taylor said.
There are also plans to widen Panama Lane to four lanes and to install a traffic signal at the Cottonwood Road and Panama Lane intersection.
Several Lamont and Arvin residents, like Jose Gonzalez, president of the Greater Lamont Chamber of Commerce, were present to voice their frustrations over not having a high school in their town.
"They did not ask for public input on where the high school should be, and the community of Lamont has been asking for a high school since 2006," he said.
More than 1,400 students from the Lamont/Weedpatch area go to Arvin, Golden Valley and Mira Monte high schools.
KHSD Deputy Superintendent of Business Scott Cole said the district is not "being insensitive."
"We would love to have a community school in Lamont ... but right now this school is being designed and built so we can deal with the tremendous growth in the southeast," he said.
He also said the district is looking to bring improvements to Arvin High School soon.
There are no further community meetings scheduled for now.