What a difference a couple of years make! The tremendous success of Clayton Valley Charter High School has created a "supply and demand" environment where many more students want to enroll in CVCHS than in years past. While schools and districts face myriad challenges, big and small on an everyday basis, one problem that every school superintendent wishes they had was that of handling growth in enrollment. After all, that is what we are in business for - to make a difference in the lives of students and families by educating them and "preparing them to become first class citizens with a world class education." And the more students we have the privilege of serving, the greater the impact we have upon their lives and the life of our community.
What has been a bit of a surprise for me personally in taking the helm of CVCHS is just how hungry families in the area are for a first class public high school. Parents and students thrive when you have teachers, staff and administrations that truly care, work hard to prepare effective lessons every day and go out of their way to strive for excellence in the classroom, in center quad and in the athletic arena. When all "systems are firing at full capacity" and working in harmony, schools can become places of educational excellence where lives are changed daily and students find meaning, purpose and direction for their futures.
The opposite is very difficult - when schools and districts are struggling and declining in enrollment, jobs are lost, budgets are cut, and families want to find "greener pastures" and schools that make a difference. Many schools and districts are in that situation today and it is tough times for sure. Thankfully, CVCHS finds ourselves in the fortunate position of having over 1000 applications for the 2014/15 school year. To maintain our current enrollment of 2000 we would typically just replace the graduating class by the same number of the enrolling class, which would allow us to only enroll 500 students. I have a very difficult time, as do the board members and staff of CVCHS, in turning down so many students whose dreams are to attend CVCHS as they know our reputation as an academic powerhouse with a mission to prepare each and every student for admissions to the college of their choice. And so many are aware of the great school spirit of our student body as well as our safe school, commitment to excellence in music and the arts as well as athletics.
So what do we do about the 1000 applications? There is no room in the Inn! What shall we do?
Our mission as a charter school is to educate all students to become first class citizens with a world class education. When we say all, we certainly are not thinking of the capacity of our facility, or the size of our community, or even the number of applications. A mission is about more than a number - it articulates a core belief, it sums up our educational philosophy, it is a call to action for every CVCHS employee. If we know we have the formula for success, should we not share that with every child that had a desire to attend? Yes we should!
The reality is that we are inhibited by certain uncontrollable factors. So the CVCHS administrative team is working extremely hard to come up with the solution to our growth problem. The directive from the governing board has been to grow on campus if possible and so we have proposed portables and eventual construction of a new wing of classrooms. Unfortunately, this facility is so maxed out with usage, that we are bound to impact some population.
The good news is we do have options and we have made a proposal to MDUSD, our landlords, to add additional interim housing on campus and within a couple of years, add permanent classrooms to accommodate more students. With the current projects of stadium renovation, building concession stands and restrooms which will be completed in the fall, we have the capacity to serve food and have many more restrooms for students in a new, lower quad area that is being developed. We aim to add classrooms there as well, with the approval of MDUSD. If all goes to plan, we will be able to accommodate about 500 more students over the next couple of years without a problem. And with adding more zero period classes for students desiring to start school earlier and end earlier, we can even balance out the additional traffic flow. I have been able to accomplish similar dilemmas in prior school settings and this is done by schools throughout the country effectively.
I am very pleased with the commitment of our staff and our governing board to educate more students and to make a difference in more students' lives. This is why we are educators and this is what are calling is: make a difference in as many lives as possible, to prepare students to become meaningful participants and contributors in society and to shape the future.
"You are not here merely to make a living. You are here in order to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world, and you impoverish yourself if you forget the errand."
Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924);
28th U.S. President