Oh my frosh! South Eugene HS surprised by surge in enrollment

Oh my frosh! South Eugene HS surprised by surge in enrollment »Play Video
South Eugene High School

EUGENE, Ore. - This year’s freshman class at South Eugene High School is much larger than the school anticipated.

Last year, the school welcomed an incoming class of 315.

In recent years, Principal Randy Bernstein said incoming freshman classes have hovered around 350. 

But this year, 410 showed up.

“We’re a good 50 to 60 above our projection,” said Bernstein.

There have been additional sections of Global Studies classes added to accommodate the large freshman populatoion. 

South Eugene High School does not have open enrollment with other districts, as some schools do. This makes the surge in student enrollment even more confusing to Bernstein.  He speculates that perhaps the increase is a result of more rental properties in the area. He also said that many students enrolled in private or homeschool programs often transition into public high school.

While Bernstein insists the school was better prepared than others might be, he believes students suffer most from large class sizes. 

“To be able to get to students’ questions and provide answers, getting around to check for understanding as well as we’d like, that’s where smaller class sizes really help,” Bernstein said. 

One teacher, Elle Sabala, praised the flexibility of her colleagues but has also seen the challenges posed by the influx. 

She said the workload for teachers has been large, and available space is at a premium.

“I’d say at this point, space is the biggest consideration because I don’t think this building was built with the intent to have more than 35 in a class. I like students to move around in my class to get their brains working, and in my class of 38, we are basically on top of each other,” Sabala said. 

Administrators are optimistic that once the dust settles, the district may find funding to assist schools that based their hiring on inaccurate projections. 

Ideally, Bernstein said he would like to bring in additional staff in the second trimester  if funding becomes available.