Statewide declining enrollment affects CVUSD

Worried whispers and discussions filled the campus when students and teachers began to hear whispers about a new policy that would cut extracurricular classes that had low enrollment. Honors digital video production, woodshop and IB music classes were all courses that students were especially worried about being cut. With concern running around the school, district members and administrators helped to clear up these rumors. 

Carly Adams, Assistant Principal of instruction at NPHS, confirmed in an interview on May 15 that there is no set policy to determine which classes will remain on the roster for next year. “I wish I could simplify it for you. I wish it could just be as simple as saying there is a policy or saying there is a reason for saying this isn’t going to happen,” Adams said. “Honestly, we’re just in the development of the master schedule for next year. We’re still working on it. We’re still getting students every single day and this is where that number 30 comes in. For every 30 students, you’re able to add another teacher, or keep another teacher for that matter, so we don’t lose people.” The only class that is currently confirmed to be cut from next year’s master schedule is IB music. 

The concern of cutting classes is ultimately a result of declining enrollment, which will not only affect NPHS but all schools as it reflects district and statewide trends. Brian Mercer, the Director of High School Education in Conejo Valley Unified, explained the complexity of the matter. “The issue of declining school enrollment is multi-faceted. Factors can include: access to affordable housing, an aging in place community, declining birth rates and access to new housing being built. These factors are trends impacting communities throughout the state of California, including the Conejo Valley,” Mercer said. The enrollment number from 2021-2022 to the 2022-2023 school year at NPHS dropped about 100 students, an increased decline from the 50 students of the previous cycle. The 2024-2025 school year is projected to continue this decline. 

While there is no exact policy that cuts classes, some courses are still at risk due to the dropping enrollment number. Justin Bongiorno, sophomore, was hopeful to take honors video digital production. He had a changed disposition once he was told the class would likely not be available next year since it did not have a significant number of students sign up. “There’s a lot of great classes out there like Broadcasting 2 that probably doesn’t have 30 kids, but it’s a great class. Also there’s some classes like honors digital video production that could very well still happen with only eight people,” Bongiorno said. “It kind of sucks for the people that are [interested] because then they don’t get to take the class.” 

However, Bongiorno has found a way to participate in the course in an unorthodox manner. He will receive typical film assignments while enrolled in the Broadcasting 2 course instead. “It turns more into an independent study kind of thing where I get mentored by Cameron Winick and Zoe Maturo [NPHS students].” Bongiorno said. He reflected on how his interest in film has been impacted. “I was thinking about it and that’s why I wanted to take the class to see if I really did want to go into film. It kind of sucks though that my experience is a little hindered due to the lack of people in the class.” 

Brian Mercer ensures that the drop in student population will not affect the quality of education at CVUSD schools. “The Conejo Valley Unified School District continues to innovate and enhance the diverse academic offerings available to families with the goal of attracting and retaining students,” Mercer said.

Despite decreases in student population, NPHS and its faculty strives to maintain its sense of community.  “Newbury Park is a pretty fantastic high school. People want to come here. While we have declining enrollment, everybody has declining enrollment. I don’t know that ours is more significant than other schools. I think we’re actually doing pretty well on holding our own for the scope or average of enrollment decline,” Adams said.