Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Homestead High School's student newspaper

The Epitaph

Students, staff find silver lining in declining enrollment

Declining enrollment continues across our district, with an expected reduction of approximately 2,000 students over the next five years, according to information from the Citizens Advisory Committee meeting last September. This data indicates that 2022 saw a decline of 373 students across the district, leading to concerns within the CAC about how this has impacted HHS and other schools.

Classrooms see fewer students due to declining enrollment districtwide. (Photo by Varun Vijay Mani)

“HHS is still at a healthy number of 2,200 students,” principal Greg Giglio said. “Once it starts to get below 2,000 kids, you will see a significant change because it impacts student-teacher ratios, and then you start to see programs getting affected.”

The CAC report this October indicated that the number of world language sections has declined by 18% and science sections by 15%, with each section being a period. 

Denae Nurnberg, coordinator of data and assessment at FUHSD, said the decline in student enrollment is occurring in various course schedules. However, the impact is more pronounced in world language programs due to their sequential structure and division into four sub-departments, Nurnberg added. 

At the October CAC meeting, members expressed concerns that if the student population continues to decline, cuts may come in other areas such as electives.

“Overall, enrollment is declining and certain classes are more affected,” AP Physics C teacher Daniel Nunez said. “Required [science] courses are directly tied to how many freshmen are incoming, but elective sciences are not yet seeing the same declines as required sciences.” 

Despite this, junior Maitreya Banerjee said a slight decline in student population could have a positive impact on our school, as classes are currently extremely crowded with sizes ranging from 30-32 students.

“Fewer students would be okay because it would make HHS a lot less crowded, and a bit less competitive,” Banerjee said. “On the other hand, too small would be bad because you would not get the huge variety of classes we have today.” 

A smaller student body could also benefit students as it gives them greater access to their teachers, Nunez said. He said he sees a positive impact on student learning as reduced class sizes allow teachers to interact with students over longer periods.

With declining enrollment, fewer teachers and reduced demand for certain electives, teachers are beginning to have to work split-site and commute between multiple schools in the district to support the declining population, Nunez said.

“Mr. Carmona teaches a few sections of AP environment class at HHS and then teaches some at Fremont,” Nunez said. “So empty science rooms might [also] be because teachers are working outside of HHS.”

FUHSD has approved another measure to address declining enrollment that involves allowing up to 30 students to transfer between larger schools such as HHS and smaller schools such as Monta Vista, according to the Monta Vista Supplemental School Assignment Plan. 

“Declining enrollment is not going away anytime soon,” Banerjee said. “FUHSD needs to monitor and address the many challenges of declining enrollment, which is probably the reason we are seeing empty classrooms.”

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