6.3% increase in enrollment creates challenges and opportunities

Dec. 10, 2022

By Nikalena Iacono
Staff Writer

 If you are noticing that the high school’s hallways are more crowded than you remember, you are correct. 

 This year, LHS’ enrollment has climbed to 830 students, which is a 6.3% increase since last year and a 24% increase compared to a decade ago.

 “This jump, this growth, was a very big surprise to us,” principal Ms. Vuono said. 

 She said she became aware of the magnitude of the enrollment hike over the summer. 

Vuono said this year, some teachers have taken on teaching an extra class to keep class sizes reasonable. However, she said this workaround may not need to happen as frequently next year. 

“With this growth this year, we do have a plan to hire more teachers that we are proposing to the Board of Education,” Vuono said. 

She said at LHS, science and social studies teachers are most needed since those classes currently average 30-32 students. She said LHS also needs more teachers in these subjects so it can expand its Advanced Placement offerings.

“What we want to do is encourage some of our seniors to take AP classes, and with that, we will need more teachers,” Vuono said.

She said the perfect class size is generally between 25-28 students. However, she said business and technology classes are capped at 22 students because the computer labs each have 22 desktop computers.

“The luncheon brought a lot of people together, and I think that is what all the ambassadors and advisors of the luncheon were looking forward to seeing.”

Vuono said because these classes are relatively small, they fill up quickly. Therefore, LHS would need an additional faculty member so more sections of existing courses could be created. 

Vuono said she is hopeful that state funding due to increased enrollment will help offset the cost of some of the additional employees’ salaries. She said an increase in families receiving free or reduced lunch also leads to extra funding.

“Those families that qualify then help us with our financial aid from the state,” Vuono said. “[The state says], ‘You get this much more money because [you have] free and reduced groups,’ so that’s why we encourage the families to [apply],” Vuono said.

She said the teacher and labor shortage in New Jersey might make it harder to hire teachers.

“Once you get into high school, it’s much more difficult to find those teachers there, particularly in math and science,” Vuono said. 

She said space is another obstacle. 

“We don’t have the luxury of having a real big building here. We are limited in our number of classrooms,” Vuono said. “We have a lot of teachers that don’t have their own classrooms [who] move from class to class.”

Vuono said there is no truth to the rumor that Lyndhurst Middle School will become a high school. Instead, she said LHS may need an extension, but that type of project would require funding.

Vuono said in an effort to make new students welcome, English teacher Mrs. Paluzzi and Italian teacher Mr. Raguseo spearheaded the organization of a New Student Luncheon, which took place at lunch on Oct. 28 in Room 119.

The administration provided pizza, soda and water to the more than 20 new students in attendance as well as eight returning students–two from each grade–who were nominated by faculty to serve as ambassadors. Every new student left with an LHS magnet. Additionally, candy and LHS blankets, travel mugs and t-shirts were raffled off.

“We had a really nice turnout,” Vuono said. “Our student representatives were really great in helping to welcome them.”

Olivia Intindola, who was one of the freshman ambassadors at the luncheon, said she recognized the need for this type of event and was happy to participate.

“The luncheon went great,” Intindola said. “The luncheon brought a lot of people together, and I think that is what all the ambassadors and advisors of the luncheon were looking forward to seeing.”

Intindola said she would like to see this type of event become an annual tradition at LHS.

“It’s a great opportunity for everyone to meet people and really connect with them,” Intindola said.

In addition to the increased enrollment affecting class sizes and teacher schedules, it also impacts extracurricular clubs and sports teams.

Athletic director Mr. Radigan said because the school has more students, some sports teams are now competing against Group 2 schools, though some sports remain in Group 1.

Radigan said a growing student population can lead to more cuts on sports teams that have greater interest than the team can accommodate. He said this can be both positive and negative.

“More students allows the coach to see more potential talent. It also enables them to possibly play more people in the game because of their depth,” Radigan said.

He said a major advantage of increased enrollment is that it allows more sports to be added to the roster. 

He said offering more sports costs the district extra money because of coaches’ salaries, entry fees, equipment, officials, transportation and uniforms. 

Despite the expense, Radigan said the district has been able to add a variety of sports as LHS’ student population grew. For instance, boys lacrosse, girls flag football and indoor track and field were all added during the past six years.

“We are always looking into possibly adding more sports if there is a strong interest in the sport and if it is feasible,” Radigan said. “These kinds of decisions are thought out and made collectively between the administration, the Board of Education and myself.”

LINE GRAPH BY ELIZE CARDONA This line graph reflects the number of students at LHS each school year beginning in 2004.

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