Frosh numbers declining

Class of 2023 could end up being smallest ever at GBHS


Sidney Zabell/Gazette and file photo

Senior Sydney Herrenschmidt welcomes her freshman group during the 2018 Grizzly Retreat dressed as a hammer head shark. According to administrators, next fall’s freshman class could be the smallest ever at GBHS.

  In recent years, the Sacramento area has expanded due in no small part to the migration of many from the overcrowded Bay Area. However, as many people have moved to the region and more schools have been built in the area, an almost counter-intuitive development has been happening.

  Granite Bay High School’s population has been decreasing, ever so slowly.

  Every year, the Roseville Joint Union High School District conducts an estimate of the incoming class of freshmen in order to plan for staffing.

  Although the predicted number of freshmen for GBHS has historically been lower than the number who actually show up – in part because the number does not account for inter- and intradistrict transfers – the number of predicted freshmen for next year is the lowest it’s ever been: just 385  students.

  The decrease in students has been evident not just at GBHS, but also at its primary feeder schools – Olympus Junior High in West Roseville and Cavitt Junior High in Granite Bay.

We’re down about 20 students from the previous year, and we don’t anticipate an increase anytime soon.”

— Sean Healy

  “We have been experiencing declining enrollment at Olympus for the past few years,” Olympus principal Sean Healy said. “We’re sending fewer and fewer eighth graders (to the high school). I believe Cavitt is experiencing the same decline in enrollment.”

  Healy said part of the reason for this development has been the change in the housing market.

  “Properties in the Eureka Union School District are very expensive and may be out of the price range for young families with children to move in,” Healy said. “The problems, I feel, are at a much larger scale due to the housing market and shortage of affordable housing in this area.”

  The decrease in the number of students who are in the pipeline to attend GBHS, however small, has been a trend that has been happening the last couple of years.

  “We (are) certainly seeing a decline in our student population,” Healy said. “We’re down about 20 students from the previous year, and we don’t anticipate an increase anytime soon.”

  However, Healy said a smaller school is not always a bad thing.

  “With a smaller student population, it makes it easier to build strong, positive relationships,” Healy said.

  But smaller schools also have to adapt, and that often means having to reduce the size of the faculty while maintaining the same quality of educational programs.

  “When the student population decreases, we also have to decrease our staffing,” Healy said. “However, we’re still expected to provide all of the same services and resources as we did before. This means everyone needs to do more with fewer staff members to do the work.”

  This need to change the number of faculty members based on changing class size is not only applicable in the junior high schools, but also at the high school level.

  Meghan Cole, a teacher at GBHS who teaches primarily College Prep English 9, said that having fewer students in class, there may be “less sections of CP English 9 classes, along with all other primarily freshman classes like Health and PE 9.” Likely, this was result in many teachers having “to pick up sections of other classes to fill in.”

  That is why many remain optimistic that the estimated number will end up rising once the start of the 2019-20 school year rolls around in August and all the new freshmen actually show up.

  “I know that people are saying that our class is (going to be) like 300 people, but (with) kids from other schools and transfers, there will probably be more,” said Julia Sollazzo, a current eighth grader who plans to attend GBHS.

  Sollazzo said that while she is excited to go to GBHS next year, she does understand why some potential students would choose other schools over GBHS.

I know that people are saying that our class is (going to be) like 300 people, but (with) kids from other schools and transfers, there will probably be more,”

— Julia Sollazo

  “I think that people are going to other schools because there are more opportunities for other, possibly, advanced (private) high schools that supposedly could provide a better education for students,” Sollazzo said.

  However, Sollazzo said she still believes GBHS is a great fit for her and many other students who choose to attend.

  “Granite Bay is a great school, so I’ve heard, and I am excited to attend next August,” Sollazzo said. “I personally am going because my older brother Ryan Sollazzo and older sister Rachel Sollazzo are currently attending GBHS, and they’ve stated amazing aspects about this high school that made me wonder why someone wouldn’t want to go to Granite Bay.

  “Because of them, I am excited to take dance, photography and art, because I’ve heard so many amazing things about, for instance, dance and how fun and educational it is. I have always been intrigued by art and photography, and I look forward to attending those classes.”