Low enrollment causes large classes, less money


Juliette Tafoya

A former student talks to history teacher Davy Mauermann’s first period AP Government class of 33 students about college applications.

Cristina Jercan

The possibility of losing a teacher. Larger class size. No new technology. These are the dire consequences of the school’s low enrollment.

“There are several effects that the school is facing because of the low enrollment,” Principal Deb Smith said.

Because of DPMHS’ low enrollment of 355 students, the school is at risk of many negative changes. It’s possible to lose a teacher due to a lack of funding.

The school’s funding for the following year will be lower, specifically the categorical fund. This fund contains the money received from Title 1, a federal funding source.

“With cuts in this, it limits our ability to purchase new technology, to go on field trips and just the general taking care of supplies and things that teachers need,” Smith said.

All staffing is done based on the number of students the school has. At the end of the 2015-2016 school year, two teachers left the staff. Math teacher Tom Wild left in order to seek out a full-time job. Spanish and dance teacher Magaly Orejarena was displaced since the enrollment numbers were not met to have two Spanish teachers. Spanish teacher Glenda Hurtado was kept due to her seniority.

Music teacher Wes Hambright was brought back to staff this school year because students need the music class offered in order to fulfill the visual and performing arts A-G graduation requirement. These are requirements students need to meet in order to receive their high school diplomas.

“In order to satisfy A-G requirements, students need to satisfy requirements in art and music,” Magnet Coordinator Nicole Bootel said.

Norm day, which fell on Sept. 16, is a day when the district sets to capture the student enrollment of a school. Schools report back to the Los Angeles Unified School District with the number of students that are currently enrolled. This number determines how many teachers the school qualifies for.

“On that day, all schools will have a certain number and that’s the number that they use when assigning or cutting staff,” Bootel said.

The budget had been set to add a teacher to the staff, avoiding the loss of another teacher for this school year. There is still the possibility of a loss in staff for the next school year if there is not enough money to support all teachers.

“We are increasing our publicity efforts to try to make sure that we get a lot more student enrollment,” Smith said.

As a way to try to recruit new students, Bootel is taking current students to different middle schools during the eChoices window, when middle school students apply for the magnet high school of their choice. There, they will talk to middle school students and have presentations about the various advantages of being a DPMHS student.

“They’ll go to encourage the students in other schools that don’t typically choose to come here, to get them excited about maybe wanting to come here,” Smith said.

Smith has contacted the Lake Balboa Neighborhood Council for help in advertising the school. They have agreed to try to work with a caravan of real estate agents, according to Smith. When people look to buy homes in this area, DPMHS will be mentioned as another school for their children to attend.

“We are continuing to communicate all the great things that go on at Daniel Pearl,” Bootel said.