Chris Millsback teaches AP Microeconomics, which has 20 students in the class. “The only struggle is when we’re left with time to work on our homework after we’ve been taught the lesson,” senior Brad Petchauer said. “It can get loud, and it’ll take more time to get a question answered.”
High-school expansion creates loud, crowded classroom space; however, use permit curtails more growth
Of the 144 spots for students in the high school, 142 have been taken.
Although this may seem like a good situation for Country Day, it will become a problem if the high school continues to grow.
The Board of Trustees wants to get a conditional use permit so that the high school can expand to more than 200.
Typically the school would obtain the permit from the planning department of the city of Sacramento, according to headmaster Stephen Repsher. But he also said that it could potentially be the city council.
“We aren’t sure because we haven’t approached the city yet,” Repsher said.
To obtain a conditional use permit, the school has to first submit paperwork to the city. The school hasn’t submitted any paperwork but is in “preliminary discussions,” Repsher said.
Because Country Day is situated next to a residential area, the city requires that the school adhere to certain restrictions. The permit also requires input from local homeowners in the Sierra Oaks neighborhood.
“At this point we’re exploring options and what other restrictions that might exist,” Repsher said.
According to Repsher, a 1994 agreement between the city and neighbors capped high-school student enrollment at 144.
The larger number of students also means that many classes are very full.
According to Brooke Wells, head of high school, 20 is the maximum amount of students per class.
There are currently two large sections of three sophomore classes. English (18 and 19 students), chemistry (18 and 20) and history (16 and 19).
Chemistry teacher Joe Tellez said the main difficulties with big class sizes stem from a lack of resources (equipment) and a lack of physical space.
“When 20 students simultaneously engage in a laboratory exercise, the potential for distractions and accidents rises dramatically,” Tellez said.
Sophomore Lea Gorny said doing labs is going to be a problem in the future.
“We did one lab and it was crowded,” Gorny said. “But that time we weren’t using any dangerous chemicals.”
Gorny said demos are also hard to do because everyone crowds around.
“Since we’re a class of 18 and some people are taller than others, it makes it harder for other people to see,” Gorny said.
Teacher Jane Batarseh said the problem with her Latin II class is the lack of space.
“For me to get to 19 students in 45 minutes and give them each a little time is difficult,” Batarseh said.
The freshman class, on the other hand, has three sections of physics and history to keep the class sizes at 14.
Physics teacher Glenn Mangold said he likes having three smaller sections of freshman physics because it’s easier for him to run normal classroom instruction and lab experiments.
Last year, each freshman physics class had about 20 students. The students usually sit at tables instead of desks, so Mangold had to bring in an extra table. And since all the tables were used by students, the back of the room was crowded with lab equipment.
But the three sections mean that Mangold no longer teaches AP Physics 1, a course he previously taught to juniors and seniors.
AP Microeconomics, taught by math teacher Chris Millsback, has 20 students, significantly more than were in the class last year.
Senior Emma Belliveau said having a large class makes it hard to focus.
“Since a lot of our class time allows us to do the reading and start our homework, for the most part it’s meant to stay quiet,” Belliveau said. “But a couple whispering people can turn into everyone having loud conversations over each other.”
Director of admissions Lonna Bloedau said Country Day currently has one sophomore student waiting to enroll because the class is filled.
Grades 9 and 11 have one spot each, she said, and seniors are not admitted.