Friday, Feb. 01, 2013
Portables eyed to ease overcrowding
By Corey Pride / Cpride@losbanosenterprise.com
Even as enrollment takes its typical after-Christmas dip, overcrowding remains a problem at public schools.
Los Banos Unified School District Superintendent Steve Tietjen said the district has gone from a record high 9,790 students in October to 9,743 currently. Tietjen said the drop in enrollment occurs regularly after winter break, but he is uncertain as to why.
Nevertheless, the district is still worried about accommodating its large student population.
"There's room at our secondary schools and with Mercey Springs Elementary coming, there's room at our elementary schools," Tietjen said. "It's the junior high that's impacted."
The Los Banos Unified School District is working on a plan to expand its junior high school by 2013 to meet the needs of more than 1,500 students on a campus built for 900. Tietjen the seventh and eighth-grade campus has 1,480 students and district officials are expecting that number to grow to 1,530 by next school year.
Despite the number of students at Los Banos Junior High, Tietjen said class sizes remain consistent with schools throughout the state.
"The class sizes are no better or worse than schools with 900 students, but there's something called school culture," Tietjen said. "When LBHS (Los Banos High School) was at 2,500 kids one of the complaints we'd hear the most is that you're just a number."
Tietjen said student population can grow so large that children won't be able to get the individual attention they need.
The district plans to add six buildings (made off-site) to the campus to accommodate 150 students. The plan is expected to cost $1.5 million to $1.7 million.
The district wants to build a second junior high but is in need of funding and land. Neither are likely to be available in the near future, but Tietjen is not deterred.
"If we don't keep working on the goal of getting the land in '12, '13, '14, we won't be ready in '15, '16," Tietjen said.