What’s causing Cam High’s dropping enrollment rate?

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Photo by: Rhiannan Ruef

In autumn, many things fall: leaves, temperatures, average hours of sleep per night, and, this year, activity in some areas of Cam High’s academia.

Both the opening of Rancho Campana High School (RCHS) and summer school’s allure of earning quick credits have caused Cam High to experience a fluctuation in numbers, consisting of a shrunken sophomore population and impacted enrollment for many year-round courses.

RCHS opened on Sep. 2, 2015, enrolling 200 freshmen and 200 sophomores from the Somis and Camarillo area. Many of these Rancho Campana sophomores transferred from Cam High, whose class of 2018 lost 85 students this semester — a 12% drop from last year.

The new school offers many attractions, including a laptop for every student, a performing arts center, and three academies: Engineering, Health Sciences, and Arts and Entertainment. Rachel Wang, a current RCHS sophomore, is one of the students that transferred from Cam High to take advantage of these opportunities. “I’m really interested in the medical field,” said Wang. “Rancho allows me to get a head start in my career.

Last year, the district scheduled Mr. Matthew Doyle, AP U.S. History teacher, to transfer to Pacifica High School due to the decreased numbers of students. “There were enough students that went to the new school that we were down five sections of classes,” he said. However, another history teacher chose to leave Cam High, and Doyle was allowed to stay.

Since Doyle’s course is traditionally taken by juniors, his class numbers have not been affected by Rancho Campana. “Next year, I definitely think I’ll feel it,” he said.

Mrs. Tawney Safran, AP European History teacher at Cam High, has already noticed an impact. “I have the least amount of AP students I’ve ever had,” said Safran. “I know it’s due to an array of factors— Rancho Campana for one, online courses, simply not wanting to do summer work, and going to summer school.”

Summer programs also appear to be playing a role in decreasing classroom numbers. A popular choice for many students at Cam High is Opportunities for Learning (OFL), a charter school that offers summer courses that qualify for the A-G course requirements. Each year in May, hundreds of students and their parents flock to the OFL center in Oxnard to register for classes. Their motivation is clear— if diligent, a student could knock out a full semester course in under a month.

Cam High sophomore Fallon Price took World History over the summer with OFL in order to free up her schedule during the school year. “Right now I’m taking CADD [Computer-Aided Design and Drafting] instead,” Price explained. “I want to be a home developer, so I thought it would be a good experience.”

The expedited nature of OFL, however, does have its drawbacks. “I feel like I learned some information [through OFL], but I don’t feel like I’m doing all that other students are during the school year,” said Price.

“I worry about students not getting enough exposure in that time period,” said Doyle. “You get the credit but, do you learn what you need to know?”

Though Safran shares some of Doyle’s concern, she remains empathetic to students’ priorities. “As a parent and a former student myself, I understand,” Safran said. “Why not jump ahead so you can do other things that you want to do? Just make sure your goals are ones that you feel passionate about.”