Kern High School District's newest southeast Bakersfield high school will have to wait a little longer until it's named.
The Board of Trustees was scheduled to vote on a name for the district's 19th comprehensive high school during its meeting Monday, but several board members felt it was necessary to give the community more time to suggest additional non-proper names.
During the board's Sept. 3 meeting, KHSD Director of Business Kenny Seals revealed the top eight recommended names from the Screening Committee of Naming Facilities: Prosperity, Victory, Panama, Tacoma, David Nelson, Buck Owens, Thomas Baker and Mary K. Shell.
Board Vice President Joey O'Connell felt it was not fair to name the high school after an individual and motioned to remove the four proper names from consideration, which was approved.
"One of the difficult things is we have so many outstanding community members and so many great names to choose from," O'Connell said. "My concern is that in choosing a proper name, we exclude other proper names that are equally deserving."
He added it's been the history of the district to not use proper names in the naming of high schools.
The board also approved to have the community suggest more names during the next two weeks.
"I'd like to keep it a little more open-ended and flexible," Trustee Jeff Flores said. "This high school is four years away, so I don't think we need to be held to an arbitrary Oct. 7 deadline. I'd like to see more input from the community, an expanded list to entertain all the best possible names that we can and go from there."
Prosperity, Victory, Panama and Tacoma will be kept into consideration, while the Screening Committee of Naming Facilities will choose an additional four names after the community suggestion period closes. After the list of names is presented to the board, members will revisit the item at the Dec. 16 meeting, J. Bryan Batey, board president, said.
In May, the district asked for the public's help in naming its 19th comprehensive high school. There were 986 submissions received, Seals said.
The submissions had to follow the KHSD Superintendent’s Screening Committee for the Naming of New Facilities criteria, which included being free from biases, prejudices, political or religious connotations and taking into consideration location, community and local heritage. Seals said the committee used a variety of factors to narrow down the submissions, including longevity, region, mascot, duplication and practicality of the initials.
Several community members at Monday's meeting did not have much of a preference as to which name they would like to see attached to the new high school.
"Definitely Buck has strong ties to Bakersfield, and I think Mary K. Shell was a good choice, but Prosperity was so strange," said Percy Ednalino, an English major at Cal State Bakersfield.
Bakersfield resident Laura Ghilarducci was pleased that the board was holding off on making a decision in order to gather more input from the community.
"They started the search in May, and it was during the summer time when people forget about those things ... I didn't really know too much about it at the time," she said.
The 250,000-square-foot school will be located at the northeast corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Road and construction is scheduled to begin in fall 2020. It is set to open by August 2022 and is estimated to serve up to 2,500 students.
It is the first comprehensive high school to be built since Mira Monte and Independence high schools opened in 2008.