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Citizens Advisory Committee to combat FUHSD declining enrollment

Gary Pan, Valerie Shu
The Citizens Advisory Comittee projects stark declines in student populations across the FUHSD high school campuses. The graph above details the change in progession for student numbers from the year 2017 to 2028.

Amid declining enrollment across all five FUHSD schools, the Citizen Advisory Committee on Enrollment is carrying out renewed efforts to address the impacts of these trends. 

The CAC was established by former FUHSD Superintendent Polly Bove in early 2016 to tackle student enrollment issues across the district. While the CAC is independent from the district Board of Trustees, the CAC provides them with policy recommendations regarding enrollment. CAC members include staff, student and parent representatives from each FUHSD school who make decisions to influence district policy. 

“The advisory committee was initially formed after concerns arose about enrollment decline in Lynbrook,” FUHSD Superintendent Graham Clark said. “At the time, Cupertino High School was actually growing, and we needed to build more classrooms, while Lynbrook was declining. We actually wouldn’t have to build those classrooms if we could just transfer some kids from one school to another, and that’s exactly what we did by forming the Citizens Advisory Committee.”

FUHSD enrollment collectively is expected to decline by nearly 2000 students in the next five years, with a projected decline in enrollment of nearly 670 students in 2023-24 school year. Even though the district has lost just under 380 students this year so far, which is significantly less than the predicted loss, the future is uncertain. 

“Seven years ago, it was primarily just a problem we were seeing in Lynbrook, but now we’re having a similar problem at Monta Vista High School with declining enrollment,” Clark said. “We’re involving more schools like Homestead High School in trying to address the problem. Declining enrollment is an overall problem across the district, but it is impacting our school sites in different ways.”  

Although the original purpose of the CAC was to address the growing disparity of student enrollment between specific schools in the district, the committee is shifting toward handling the issues arising as a result of all FUHSD schools decreasing in size. For instance, elective programs such as the world language department will be difficult to sustain in light of declining enrollment.

“The meeting on September 28 was to formalize that we’re shifting the focus of the group,” FUHSD Director of Administrative Services Jason Crutchfield said. “There are issues such as the difficulty of offering 20 levels of language or robust athletic programs or elective programs; anything that was already small just gets much harder as you get smaller.”

In their first meeting of the school year on Sept. 28, the CAC discussed the challenge of handling the repercussions of declining enrollment. FUHSD administrators highlighted the topic of district transfer programs including the Lynbrook Supplemental School Assignment Plan and the Monta Vista Supplemental School Assignment Plan, which allow incoming high school students to attend Lynbrook and Monta Vista High School regardless of their resident FUHSD school. These programs were started with the goal to balance enrollment across schools. 

“Lynbrook is always going to be the smallest school, but the program has helped maintain the ratios of students within each school,” junior and Lynbrook CAC representative Jennifer Chua said.

Declining enrollment affects these transfer programs by minimizing the number of students who can participate in them. Ultimately, programs like the LSSAP will be hard to maintain.  

“Eventually, multiple schools are going to be in the same range, so drawing students from one to send to the others is going to be harder to do and not really a viable solution,” Crutchfield said.

Athletic programs will also experience major setbacks when enrollment further declines. Ideally, an athletic program has both a JV and varsity team to allow underclassmen to experience the sport and develop their skills. However, without enough student athletes to fuel the team, in many cases, JV programs across sports could be eliminated. Although the committee has not yet made a decision about what possible solutions to implement, it hopes to inform members on impacts toward world language programs at their next meeting. To adapt to the current situation, the CAC plans to spend this school year examining how to manage issues caused by enrollment declines across all district schools. 

“The only thing on the next agenda is to look at data and decisions around the world language, but this is just to start educating the CAC members on what’s going on,” Crutchfield said. “I think we have the right people to look deeply at these issues and figure it out — we always have.” 

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David Zhu
David Zhu, Staffer
(he/him) David is a sophomore and a first year staffer! He loves eating any asian food -- some of his favorites include ramen, pho, and hot pot. Basketball is his favorite sport of all time, and he also loves to go on runs and hikes in his free time. He has two siblings - a younger sister and twin brother.

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