BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — As Kern County continues to grow a new high school is being added to help with the student population. But some are not happy with talks of boundary changes that will have to occur in order to make it happen.
The plan is to open Del Oro High School by the fall of 2022 at the corner of Panama Lane and Cottonwood Rd. But with it comes growing pains for surrounding schools.
Shem Oesch, a father of three, is talking about boundary changes that are likely in the foreseeable future for the Kern High School District. Children in the neighborhood he currently lives in attend Bakersfield High School. But he says from what he's learned that would no longer be the case.
“You can imagine the kind of trauma that a child would go through or even a teenager would go through to have to try and re-establish themselves,” said Oesch.
According to the Kern High School District potential schools affected by the boundary changes include Arvin, Bakersfield, East, North, and West.
Back in 2018 when the district approved the purchase of land for the new Del Oro High school in Southeast Bakersfield, Lamont residents were upset that the new proposed high school wasn't being built in their town. Residents there saying it's time their community had their own high school. Currently, students in the Lamont and Weedpatch area go to Arvin High School.
Oesch and his wife, both former BHS Drillers, say they moved to the Stockdale Estates neighborhood to be in Bakersfield High School's district, but are now learning they may now be in West High’s district.
“The neighborhood we're in today, which is the Stockdale Estates neighborhood, I would say at least 50 percent of that decision was based on the school district and the high school in particular.”
The Kern High School District says they have a committee to discuss potential boundary changes within the district and that these changes have not been finalized.
Here’s the map that shows the current district boundaries:
But 23ABC obtained potential boundary map changes which would affect several neighborhoods and schools, including BHS:
According to a district timeline, the boundary proposals will be sent to the board of trustees and up for public comment in the coming months.
School boundary changes are nothing new. In fact, the last time boundaries were changed was for the 2018 school year to relieve overcrowding at frontier high school. And, the district says once a boundary change has been approved this would only impact 9th and 10th graders. Juniors and seniors would not be required to change schools.
Roger Sanchez, the director of research and planning with the Kern High School District says that nothing has been released to the public as they are still in the planning stages. Sanchez says they've formed a committee where principals from each high school chose specific members that could help in the process. He says the committee has met three times thus far where they've made several different mapped-out plans.
“It's very difficult to have a meeting of this size if you had 100 people providing input. I think you kind of end up getting paralyzed by a lot of different opinions and we have a short timeline to get this done.”
Sanchez says they're about a third of the way through the process and that these plans should be released to the board for approval by summer. He says that the public will also have an opportunity to get involved during this time.
"We divided the city of Bakersfield into like four quadrants. So we started with the southeast. We went to the southwest. We're gonna look at the northeast. So for every time we meet were coming up with different scenarios different plans.”
Sanchez says this is done a year in advance so parents and students can get an idea if their area will be affected. This won't require 11th and 12th graders to change schools but it will affect 9th and 10th graders.