Due to a housing boom in southwest Bakersfield, the Panama-Buena Vista Union school district is dealing with some growing pains as they consider boundary changes for the upcoming school year, but gas lines could be to blame for the mess.
"We have certain neighborhoods in our district that are experiencing a lot of growth. The unfortunate part of that for us is that even though we'd like to build schools there, we cannot. What precludes us from doing that are the gas lines that run through those properties," Gerrie Kincaid, Assistant Superintendent of Educational Services, said.
According to the California Department of Education, a school must be at least 1,500 feet away from a gas line, and that's causing a lot of trouble for the school district.
"There are a lot of regulations that are tied to the construction and architecture of schools," Kincaid said.
Old River Elementary is one of the most crowded schools in the district and it is in violation of code because it is within 1,500 feet of a gas pipeline.
"We do have some schools that are within that 1,500 foot buffer, but this regulation came in after those schools were already built and approved for construction so it does not apply to those schools, but any new construction has to follow that guideline and regulation," Kincaid said.
However, there is no regulations on building houses near gas lines, so the neighborhood is booming with growth but the district is left empty-handed. Despite these challenges, some parents are still upset their kids could be forced to switch schools next year.
"The bottom line for us is we want our kids to stay at a school that gives quality education," Darlene, a southwest Bakersfield parent, said.