By Sam Leitch, copy editor
By Audrey Moessing, copy editor
Open enrollment for Maria Carrillo High School closed Nov. 15, ending the period of time when students from outside MCHS’s district could apply for enrollment. With roughly 27 percent of current MCHS students coming from inter- or intradistrict transfers, this is a deadline that has consistently been key to determining the make-up of students on campus.
Currently the student population is 1,468, which allows for transfers, but prior to 2017 transfers were more restricted, especially to MCHS due to its near-capacity enrollment of 1,578 in 2016-17, according to US News. The 2017 Tubbs Fire was a significant factor in the decline of the district’s enrollment.
“Before [the fires] the district as a whole closed most open enrollment up” due to a significant amount of transfer requests, especially from districts like Elsie Allen, said Vice Principal Amy Wiese. However, after the 2017 fires MCHS lost roughly 170 families which triggered a “significant drop” in enrollment as families relocated. This trend was applicable county-wide, according to Wiese and the Sonoma County Office of Education. From the 2017-18 school year to the 2018-19 school year, the county went from 70,940 to 70,449 students, a loss of 491 students. With such a drop in enrollment across the board, Wiese said the district “loosened up the parameters for open enrollment.”
“We don’t know yet,” Weise said, referring to the number of open enrollment in next year’s freshman class. Currently 399 students attending MCHS are on inter- and intradistrict transfers, according to Counseling Secretary Lorie Banks.
Senior Tricia Cayetano opted out of going to Montgomery High School, attending MCHS since freshman year. “I simply transferred because a friend convinced me to go,” Cayetano said. “Soon, a lot of my friends decided to go here instead of Monty so I just joined them.”
Santa Rosa City Schools’ policy gives students wishing to transfer schools in the district priority based on a number of reasons from first to last: threats at a given school, unique programs, natural disaster displacement, children of employees and siblings of currently enrolled students. While Cayetano was not given priority, she said “it was not at all difficult because my parents…did everything on time.” However, her brother, junior Anton Cayetano, was able to transfer to Carrillo easily because they were related.
“We’re sitting at the size we were built for,” Principal Katie Barr said, describing the fight against open enrollment as a “double edged sword.” However, Barr hopes to advertise MCHS through several methods, such as Fly Up Day, which would allow Rincon Valley Middle School students to experience a typical school day at Carrillo. Similarly, she plans to promote existing “undiscovered gems” at MCHS besides the AP program, citing the band and drama programs, Economic Summit for freshmen and upcoming Project Wayfinder classes.