Enrollment at MTHS has fallen from nearly 1900 students a decade ago to just under 1300 students this year. With enrollment numbers projected to fall for at least another year, the impact is felt everyday by students and staff members.
Next year’s projected enrollment is 1130 students; a far cry from the 1861 students who enrolled at Terrace in 1998. At the time, when MTHS was the largest school in the district, there were concerns of overcrowding. Those days are long gone.
Enrollment numbers help determine funding and anything from how many staff members to how printing paper supplies is affected
“We have a shorter supply of paper,” sophomore Yosan Michael said. “When I don’t have enough money in my account and I need to print something out for an assignment, I can’t do that and sometimes it will be late.”
Next year, even more staff members will be sent to other schools or will even be laid off. Others will split their time at MTHS and other schools in the district.
“We’ve seen our colleagues be surplused to other buildings,” Spanish teacher Robin Cogburn said. “It’s really stressful to see that happen to your colleagues because by whatever subject you teach, you’re safe for the moment but it doesn’t mean that you’re safe forever.”
“I have been surplused,” social studies teacher Dory Weber said. “It means that there is not enough staffing for me to be kept here, but there is staffing for me to be able to teach over at Meadowdale High School.”
Paraeducator and library assistant Teresa Fractious will no longer be working at MTHS. When Fractious broke the news to students, some were so outraged that they started a petition to get her back.
“Our school has been affected a lot [by budget cuts]. We have a minimal amount of supplies, a lot of staffing has been reduced,” Fractious said. “I have been displaced. I don’t know where I will be working.”
One of the solutions to help solve the problem of declining enrollment is the creation of the new STEM magnet school next year, which will attract students to MTHS from other schools within and around our district to study courses relating to science and math.
It is projected to attract 55 students in its first year.
“I think one of the things we’re trying to do by offering the STEM magnet school is to create more challenging programs here at Terrace,” Principal Greg Schwab said. “That will keep some of our kids here and keep them from leaving and going to do Running Start or going to the IB program at Edmonds-Woodway.”
Another solution that has been regularly tossed around has been to change the boundaries of the secondary schools in the district.
While other high schools in the district have seen their enrollment stay steady or even increase, MTHS has seen a large decline over the past decade.
“While we continue to get smaller, the other three schools in the district are pretty big and certainly could use some help in terms of reducing crowding,” Schwab said.
A huge problem with changing the boundaries of high schools in the district is that they are tied in with the boundaries of middle schools. The proximity of Alderwood Middle School (AMS) and Brier Terrace Middle School (BTMS) makes the boundary situation more complicated.
“It was a new school, most of my friends from middle and elementary school were going [to LHS],” LHS sophomore Lacey Cosgrove said. Even though Cosgrove lives in the MTHS boundary, she goes to LHS.
No matter what solutions are found, it’s clear that the enrollment at MTHS will not change overnight.
“When I first came to this building in 2003, we had a population of around 2000,” Cogburn added.
“The teachers are dedicated and they try to make up for what’s lost [through the budget cuts] and a lot of students try to also,” junior Shiffite Awel said.
With the enrollment continuing to decline, the district must find a solution to the problem before the situation gets any worse. However, possible realignment of the high school boundaries will be put off until after next school year.
“Our part of the district is just not growing. There aren’t a lot of families moving into this part of the community and that’s really the main reason why kids continue to leave our system, there aren’t families coming in behind them to fill in,” Schwab added.
Despite the continued enrollment decline, Schwab remains optimistic about his school’s ability to operate at a high level.
“I think we have a great school here. We have an amazing staff. Out of all the high schools I’ve ever worked in, this is by far the best one and I don’t say that because I have to,” Schwab said. “I say that because I’ve had the experience of working at different high schools,” he said.