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A closer look at the candidates for Kern High School District Area 4

Area 4 of the Kern High School District serves more than 42,000 students and is the largest high school district in California.
Bakersfield High School
Posted at 6:29 PM, Oct 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-02 12:55:25-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — All eyes are on school district board elections across the country this election season, with issues like fentanyl in schools, violence, and parental input into curriculum choices have become household conversations.

Area 4 of the Kern High School District is the largest 9-12 high school district in California and serves more than 42,000 students. Geographically, the district stretches from Stockdale up to Centennial and includes some of downtown Bakersfield. It is also the area with the most candidates vying for trustee seats this year.

KHSD trustees are responsible for hiring and evaluating superintendents, adopting district policies, approving local accountability plans, and adopting and monitoring budgets, as well as monitoring district performance and student achievements, and listening to public comments.

Two of the candidates running for the KHSD Board of Trustees are teacher Kathy Scrivner and parent Lilian Lopez.

Lopez is one of a few parents running for school-related elected offices in Kern County, and she says she was prompted to run because she wanted to have a say in the policies she feels will impact her kids as they move up in grades.

“There needs to be a lot more accountability and transparency in the schools, and as parents we deserve to know what is going on with our kids,” said Lopez.

Lopez decided to run for the KHSD Board of Trustees after the Bakersfield City School District rolled out a student education program aimed at discouraging the bullying of LGBTQ+ students. She argues that her daughter was instead bullied for her believes and labeled a homophobe for declining to acknowledge other students’ preferred pronouns in an online discussion.

“Social programs should not be in schools,” stated Lopez. “I am talking about my Christian values, too, as a Christian, because we are living in a society where it does not matter what social program you get involved in, somebody is bound to be left out and rejected and not included.”

Kathy Scrivner agrees that issues surrounding gender identity and preferred pronouns should be kept outside the school setting, but says everyone should feel welcome at school regardless of their identity, adding schools should focus on teaching kids how to think rather than what to think.

Lopez says other parents she has spoken to agree with her, that some anti-bullying policies leaves space for bullying toward their kids for not having the same views or agreeing with students from the LGBTQ+ community. She says she prefers to leave social conversations to the parents’ discretion.

One of those parents is Anthony Rodriguez, who has met Lilian Lopez and shares some of her views. He has three kids in high school and two at the Bakersfield City School District. He says he was concerned when an LGBTQ+ flag was up in one of his kids’ math classes.

“How is that part of the curriculum?” asked Rodriguez. “Because it is actually distracting, because it brings up conversation. Unwanted, unneeded conversation, when the kids have a lot going on and need to focus on reading, writing, and arithmetic.”

Another person running for KHSD Board of Trustees and one of Lilian Lopez’ opponents is educator Kathy Scrivner, who says she decided to run after helping her high school grandchildren with schoolwork when schools went remote during the height of the pandemic. She says during that time, she noticed that many students were falling behind.

“Student success is big because we have such a big learning gap that was created by the closing of the schools, and we have to get that closed in as much as we can,” said Scrivner.”

Scrivner is a lifelong local educator. She is also Kern County Board President Zack Scrivner’s mother. She says student success is her top priority, noting that test scores are way below what they should be.

“We need to focus on learning,” said Scrivner.

Second on Scrivner’s list of priorities would be safety in schools.

“Keeping drugs out of our schools is an overwhelming task, and what we need to do is have a program,” said Scrivner. “A big campaign that educates parents and students.”

Lilian Lopez also supports schools stocking Narcan and wants it available to all district teachers.

Election Day is November 8th. Stay connected to 23ABC both on the air and online for more candidate profiles and other voter information.