EYE OF THE TIGER’S VIEW: Redraw district lines: it’s urgent




When West Park High School opens next school year, district attendance boundaries will shift to allow West Park residents into the new school. But in doing so, the new lines would wipe out a large portion of Oakmont High School’s population. Demographers project Oakmont will lose nearly 900 students over the next three years as West Park phases into the district.

When Eye of the Tiger asked in 2017 after initial projections accounted for West Park’s impact on student enrollment, the district responded the issue was “not urgent.”At that time, Oakmont was expected to fall to 1600 students from over 2000 students.

When Eye of the Tiger asked in 2019 after updated projections indicated a significantly larger drop in enrollment, the district responded that the issue is a matter to discuss in the future. At this time, Oakmont is expected to fall to 1290 students from 2150 students.

This is cause for alarm. If projections show a school dropping to under two-thirds its current population with no guarantee of recovery, the time to address these issues is now. It is what you could call “urgent.”

Not only does this affect the student body, but the staff that Oakmont can support as well. Oakmont now runs the risk of losing not only 900 students, but programs and electives that will no longer have high enough student enrollment. 

If a school risks losing various classes and electives because of attendance boundaries, it’s time to redo them.

And if a school finds its new equilibrium at 1600 students or less, a district of six comprehensive high schools will have a single outlier of a not-so-comprehensive site. Oakmont should not have to pull from three separate areas to maintain its enrollment. If attendance boundaries that look like a gerrymandered political district are still unable to maintain student population, it’s time to redo them.

With West Park opening, the district has a valid reason to form a committee that could draft new attendance lines far in advance. In staying ahead of the curb, they can address concerns and issues now. If the fear of upset families prevails, working on lines far in advance can alleviate pressures put on the district if they were to start even later. Consider families, but remember that making sure a school can provide the same opportunities across the board is more important. 

Oakmont losing sections of various courses comes first. Next is losing teachers, then comes the loss of programs and opportunities offered at other sites. If RJUHSD prides its schools on offering equal opportunities regardless of what campus students are on, then we must continue to support and maintain student populations.

West Park, in many ways, represents a shiny new object everyone is infatuated with. It’s a step forward in education and it’s a tangible example of what modern education will look like. But we cannot allow a shiny new object to distract us from our older, traditional schools as well. 

We can continue pursuing the future without leaving schools in the past. It shouldn’t be an afterthought. It shouldn’t be an issue to tackle later.