Growing pains: The expansion of PVCSD

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Natalie Richmiller

Overcrowding has been an issue in the cafeteria at Pleasant Valley High School.

Natalie Richmiller, Photo Manager

The current PV senior class has about 368 students while the freshman class has nearly 454 students. The entire student body consists of around 1,624 students with the number of students in each grade level rising. The high school is quickly running out of space and staff to accommodate the rapidly growing class numbers. 

This has caused many administrators and teachers to question what the district will do from this point forward. The high school has already expanded once with the addition of the tower, and Forest Grove Elementary was added just this year. However, these efforts to expand have proven to not be sufficient.

Although the difference of 100 students between grades does not seem significant, it makes a substantial impact. A greater amount of students have to be placed in the same number of classrooms which has caused class sizes to increase by almost 10 students. Science classrooms are supposed to be capped at 24, writing at 20, literature at 27 and social studies at 27.

This year’s classes have exceeded their limits, leaving rooms crowded and teachers overwhelmed. Senior Ava Kwak also has noticed more people throughout the school. “I feel like the hallways are packed and it’s really difficult to get through to my classes. I find myself bumping into people left and right,” she said. 

Overcrowding has carried over into the cafeteria, as well. Lunches have had to start releasing students almost 10 minutes earlier than the scheduled time in order to avoid increased traffic between lunch sections. The doorway to the cafeteria is not large enough to handle the influx of students into the cafeteria along with the flood of students leaving. 

This would not be an issue if there was somewhere for students to go during the extra time but unfortunately, there is not. This opens up the possibility for students to misbehave and roam in the hallways while teachers finish their 30 minute lunch break, guaranteed by contract. Many teachers end up locking their doors until the bell rings, meaning students are also not able to go into their next class earlier. 

The building is not the only place running out of room, however. PV experienced its first parking crisis this year: There were not enough spots to give freshmen parking passes. Even with four main parking lots, the number of students has surpassed the number of available spaces. If the high school continues to build more additions, parking will be even more limited. This means the number of students will continue to grow while the number of parking spaces will decrease. 

This is a big problem. We have already eliminated 9th grade parking (for the most part) and we may have to look at limiting 10th grade. We are currently landlocked, so unless we are able to get additional land we don’t have many options for increasing our parking,” Principal Darren Erickson said. “We will continue to brainstorm as I know this is a big frustration for staff and students, but I don’t have any specific answers at this time.” 

This is an issue that will pose problems for students and parents if it has not already. Kwak has a freshman brother who she takes to school every day, but she expressed concern about what would have happened if she was not able to. “My dad would’ve had to change his work schedule to take him or he would’ve had to take the bus,” she said. Many other students are also in a similar position, and others have been forced to make changes they had not anticipated. 

Administration has been considering all these factors and is trying to find solutions to the concerns. Erickson mentioned further possibilities to accommodate for the significant increase in the student body. “ I would guess HS expansion will become a priority within 2-3 years, knowing the window in which we will need to be able to accommodate a sizable increase in enrollment,” he said. More staff has already been hired and will continue to be according to enrollment numbers and classroom capacities. 

There is no doubt that problems have been caused by the rapid growth of the PVCSD. Teachers and students have expressed their concerns with class sizes, parking and space. Not much can be done at the moment, but PV administration is taking these issues into consideration and trying to find solutions. 

Although it has brought issues, the expansion of the district is something to look forward to. The growing student body will lead to a bigger and more diverse school community, giving PV the opportunity to provide more students with a quality education.