West faces drop in enrollment

Emma Bernick, News Editor

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West’s enrollment number is the lowest it has been in the past five years, with only 1640 students attending West as of April 2017. At the beginning of the 2015-2016 school year, there were 1898 students attending West, according to Davenport Community School District Specialist Joshua Sun.

Associate principal Mike Garnica says there are a number of reasons for the decline. The dual graduation program at Davenport North High School could be one contributing factor.

The dual graduation program offers students a chance to graduate from North with a high school diploma and an associate’s degree. Due to the district’s open enrollment policy, students from any school can apply going into their freshman year.

The benefits of this program include free tuition for dual credit courses taken in high school and a competitive edge when applying to four-year colleges. Earning an AA (Associate of Arts) degree while in high school can save tens of thousands of dollars later on.

To be accepted into this program, applicants must have a 95 percent attendance rate and maintain at least a 2.5 GPA. They also must have an ACT score on file prior to taking math or English courses. The Accelerated Associate Degree program is only offered at North High School.

Another factor could be the new high school, Mid City. It is an alternative high school that opened in 2014. Mid City was created to be a second chance for students who drop out or can’t attend one of the other three high schools in the district.

It seems that some kids are leaving West to try this new experience. Last year, approximately 20 students transferred from West to Mid City, according to Mid City principal Dr. Jake Klipsch.

At Mid City, there are fewer students, shorter classes. The student to teacher ratio is 16:1 at Mid City, compared to an average class size of 30 at West. With a smaller amount of students, staff is more likely to make a closer personal connection with each child.

Due to our smaller sizes we are able to provide a more individualized approach. As the principal I am able to know the names of all the students in our building so when I pass by one in the hallway I can usually tell if something is bothering them or if there is a problem because I interview each student that comes here before they begin,” Klipsch said.

Students seem to enjoy the feeling of a close-knit community at school.

“When students are asked about what they like about Mid City, one thing I often hear is that it has a family feel. I think that’s due to our smaller size,” said Klipsch.

Some individuals feel that the athletic opportunities that other schools offer are a major factor in the decline of enrollment at West.

“I think that other schools have better sports teams because they have better coaches, and aspiring athletes would rather go to those schools,” junior Moses Gonzalez said.

Garnica says that West isn’t the only school in the district that has had problems with decreasing enrollment number.

“Enrollment in the district, in general has dropped,” Garnica said.

In fact, there are 3,000 less students enrolled in a Davenport district school than in 1991, according to WQAD. The drop in enrollment numbers is starting to have a trickle-down effect on Davenport district staff and faculty.

Language Arts Teacher Kristin Koski almost lost her job because West’s enrollment number is going down. She was only told that because of low enrollment, her position was being eliminated.

Currently, Koski is the only staff member who teaches theater classes. However, there are other teachers in the building who are qualified to teach those classes. Koski is the speech teacher that has been at West for the shortest amount of time, so she was the one who was told that her job had been cut.

“I was a little surprised [when she was told her position was being eliminated] because I like it here and I would like to stay here for a long time, but I know that these things happen so it’s not a big deal,” Koski explained.

Recently, Koski received good news. She was told that she was going to keep her position. As for why, all she was told is that someone resigned and because she claimed her recall rights, she was offered her position back first.

Koski is looking forward to the future of the theater department. She is excited for all of the oppurtunities to come.

“I have lots of goals for the theater program. I hope that the classes keep growing and that students start competing at the state level for Thespian Festival,” Koski said.

The district has made some efforts to stop the decline in enrollment, such as holding a showcase where various programs in the district showed what they had to offer to students. However, an improvement in numbers has yet to be seen, which means the threat of a job loss is still present.

“I really would have missed [West] if I had to leave. I love the people here and the passionate students that I get to work with,” Koski said.

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West faces drop in enrollment