Bakersfield police officers will now start patrolling several Bakersfield City School District (BCSD) campuses, to try to cut down on truancy rates.
BCSD officials said14% of their students miss at least 18 days of school a year. That two percentage points higher than the rest of Kern County and four percentage points higher than the rest of California.
Starting Thursday, you will see two Bakersfield Police resource officers on 32 of the 44 Bakersfield City Schools' campuses, inside the BPD jurisdictions. Their objective is to cut down on truancies in the district by helping students with bullying concerns, social issues or problems at the house.
Sandeep Mahli is one of those resource officers. He said, "We want to hone in on those triggers and try to address them so we can get them back in school. Because everybody knows, you know, that school's important. It's going to build that foundation for them to be successful down the road."
For parents like Bethany Bachman, she says she's excited to see the school district take steps to make the classroom more comfortable for her children.
"If they don't feel safe on their campus, they're not going to want to be there and they're not going to want to learn," said Bachman.
Bachman has two students in the district. She says her oldest started having problems with bullies once she entered middle school.
"This last year has really been rough for my daughter. She kind of marches to the beat of her own drum. And sometimes when you do that you kinda, you kinda paint a target on your back for other kids' ridicule," said Bachman.
School officials said this is a trial run with the two officers. The partnership will cost the district $60,000 for the rest of this year. At the end of the year they will evaluate the program. And if they continue with the two officers for all of next year, it will cost $120,000 from the district budget.
BCSD Instructional Support Services Director, Tim Fulenwider, said, "Our concern is that if kids aren't in school regularly, then they can't learn. And that in the long term has negative impact on not only that child but the community as a whole."
And a parent like Bachman says, she thinks the costs of these extra officers will payoff if it means students like her daughter will feel like she has more allies on campus.
"She knows she can go to her teachers, we have our positive behavior intervention specialist. But you know you can never have too many tools in the tool shed," said Bachman.
Officer Mahli said they plan on making some home visits too and another way to help get more students to class.