Increased population, more students, a larger student body – whatever the wording, the consensus seems to be that the school should grow.
It’s unlikely that anyone would argue against the benefits of a larger high school: more diversity and more opportunities. However, as with most things in life, expansion would come at a cost. Therefore, the real question is not whether or not the student body should grow, but at what expense?
The area in most peril of being compromised is the teacher-to-student ratio. Because Country Day’s main selling point is its small classes, increasing the number of students without proportionally increasing the number of faculty would destroy the essence of a Country Day education.
The school must remain unique in its intimate student-teacher relationships and individualized attention. Without these attributes, Country Day loses much of its appeal when compared to other schools.
Another issue is space. If our school chooses to increase the number of students, it must first address the physical campus. As it is, most of ourclassrooms are filled – adding just a few students per class would push the body counts over the comfortable limit. (For example, the 17 students in teacher Jane Batarseh’s Latin II class already experience the negative effects of a classroom pushed past its maximum capacity.) Therefore, the school must expand existing buildings or add new ones to accommodate increased numbers.
Clearly, there’s a sequence in which the school must proceed in order to maintain its high standards:
New or renovated buildings must come first; otherwise, additional classes will be meeting on patches of lawn in the quad.
New teachers must come next, as we wouldn’t want to lower the caliber, even temporarily, as a result of student overpopulation.
New students must come last – they will be easily accommodated if the other two factors are taken care of.
So if new buildings and new teachers must precede new students, the question naturally turns to money. Without additional students to help shoulder the costs, current students will see a rise in tuition.
But let’s ignore cost issues for a moment – let’s assume that we manage to conjure up the money for new buildings. The numbers may work out on paper, but where are the physical buildings going to go? Our campus is already rather crowded – if the school were to add more buildings, it would have to expand into the back field, which may not even be an option given the needs of our sports teams and the power-line company regulations.
In addition, student parking at Country Day is limited and cumbersome. Students are not allowed to park in the parking lot because it is for faculty. Students are not allowed to park on Latham Drive (or in the surrounding neighborhood) because the neighbors will get angry. Students are not even allowed to park on Munroe Street because that, too, is reserved for teachers. Obviously, a larger high school would make the already dire parking situation even worse. The school needs to solve the parking problem before it makes any dramatic changes in the size of the student body.
None of this is to say that Country Day should not expand. But there are many factors to be considered and many consequences to be evaluated as the school looks toward growth.