Are Middle Schools too Overcrowded?
Last year, the district had 9,408 middle school students throughout 11 public middle schools. With so many students at a relatively few number of schools, it would seem as though schools should be monitored for how overcrowded they are.
When taking the average number of students per middle school, there are about 855 students per school, but this exact number does not apply to every school in the district. Some schools, like Straub Middle School, only saw attendance of 610 students in the 2017-18 school year. Other schools, like Waldo Middle School, had 1,029 students enrolled in the same year. There is also a noticeable difference between the two schools aside from the location. The size of the two schools are very different, with Straub having 132,000 square feet of space, while Waldo has only 125,000 square feet.
On the Salem-Keizer School District website, it is stated that the district serves over 42,000 students, preschool through high school. The site also states that new enrollment numbers are expected to climb higher as more years pass. Considering that Salem and Keizers’ combined population is slightly less than 207,000, this creates the potential for an influx of kids at Salem-Keizer Schools. This means that over 1 in 5 people in the 2 cities are enrolled in one of the district’s 62 schools.
“I’m not sure [what could reduce overcrowding], actually. It’s really difficult because kids can generally go anywhere they want, ” Aidan Lyle ‘22 said.
District high schools will all be expanded so that they serve over 2000 students. This is possible because of a recently passed bond measure of $619 million. This is beneficial to high schools, but there is no specification for the expansion of middle schools. However, there are additions being made to middle schools too, such as 1 or 2 extra classrooms and extra cafeteria or gym space.
Former students of Salem-Keizer middle schools, like Lyle, say middle schools were “sometimes, but not always, [crowded].”
In a poll of 23 students conducted at Judson Middle School, 21 students said that their middle school feels overcrowded. According to this poll, 91% of students sampled believed that their middle school was overcrowded.
It is unclear what relatively small schools with large enrollment like Judson and Waldo have in mind for the future. As the population of students continues to grow, the problem will continue to evolve, and Salem-Keizer Public Schools need to find a suitable solution.