This year the district experienced a jump in student enrollment with 127 more students attending Los Altos High School than the preceding year. This brings the total number of students at the school to 2023. The class of 2018, currently the sophomore class, is the largest to ever attend LAHS.
Student enrollment growth is occurring at both LAHS and MVHS, but LAHS is growing at a much faster rate. One potential cause of the district’s growth is high academic standing compared to other private options.
“The reputation of the school is very strong,” Mountain View-Los Altos school district superintendent Jeff Harding said. “I think it discourages students and parents from choosing private school options if the public schools are perceived as better.”
Several years ago, a demographic study predicted an enrollment increase due to Los Altos’ thriving economy.
“If you go back thirteen years [ago,] what was the economy like?” Harding said. “When the economy is better [people] have more children. This was expected.”
During a board meeting on Monday, September 8, Harding brought up the possibility of opening interdistrict transfer. Under this policy, students attending LAHS would have the opportunity to switch to MVHS.
“[Transfer] would be at student discretion,” Harding said. “A lot of districts do that, but we don’t currently, [and] it may be something to consider in the future, just to help balance the numbers.”
However, interdistrict transfer would require the board to approve a new policy and is unlikely to happen in the short term.
“It is a school board decision [and this is] the first time it has been discussed at the school board level,” Harding said. “I envision that as being a potential long term solution but not something to do in the short term.”
Teachers will be most affected by the policy because with increased enrollment, they may have to share classrooms. However, students will notice few changes for the time being.
“For students, [growth] really does not have much impact,” Harding said. “Class size remains the same. As we add new students we just add more classes.”
Two years ago, LAHS added 12 classrooms to accommodate the increase, many of which currently house foreign language classes.
“[The new buildings were part of] a plan for increasing the facilities,” Harding said. “If the pattern continues we will need to add more classrooms. At this point we are just watching.”
The board has no immediate plans to address the growth, but another demographic study will be conducted to foresee future trends.
Counselors have also been affected by the enrollment growth. With the same number of counselors serving a larger student body, each one has been assigned more students than in the past.
“We all notice a more constant flow of students in the counseling offices during drop-in times,” Counseling Department Coordinator Ryan Carter said. “Sometimes students have to wait to see their counselor or come back during another break.”
As a result of the growth, students and parents are reaching out to the counselors in other ways.
“One challenge is that we are getting more email than ever, and we try to respond as quickly as we can to our students and parents,” Carter said.
Despite the growth, counselors still expect to offer the same services to students that they have in the past.
“We are still providing the same services for our students and continue to strive to always be available,” Carter said. “We are also very fortunate to have an incredible support staff. [They] all help the counseling office run as smoothly as possible and also help our students find the assistance that they need.”
LAHS has also hired new teachers to accommodate the growth.
“We have hired some really awesome new teachers and staff this year, and that is a major positive effect on our school community,” Carter said.
Current trends indicate that student enrollment at LAHS will continue to increase.
“Both of our schools are increasing in enrollment and I think that is a real testament to the public’s perception of our schools,” Harding said.