If you stepped onto the campus of Castaic Middle School you’d think no one attended the school. Less students roam the halls during passing periods as each year passes. Students spend their break periods in small clusters throughout odd spots on the campus.
All of the buildings on the back half of the campus have been shut off due to the lack of students to fill them. The sixth grade students have been moved from the middle school to the local elementary schools and the teacher lounge sees half as many teachers as there was five years ago.
All you can ask yourself is if anyone still attends CMS while you look at the past graduating class photos hanging in the front office, the classes only getting smaller with time.
If the middle school is suffering due to lack of students, how will a high school ever thrive in Castaic?
“That high school is about 10 years behind schedule,” says Ryan Roehn in a Facebook post, a parent of a child who was supposed to attend Castaic High School.
Castaic High School has been promised to the residents of Castaic for over 10 years. Students who are now graduating college undergraduate programs were supposed to be a part of the first class of students who would attend Castaic High School from freshman year to senior. However, 10 years later, construction is finally underway and the student population at the local middle school is slowly diminishing.
Castaic Middle School currently holds approximately 560 students between the two grade levels, seventh and eighth. They are projected to drop below 450 students in the upcoming school years, according to a demographic and capacity study and analysis done by the Castaic Union School District.
“We’ll survive here as long as we don’t fall under 400, but then our numbers show, like in 2022-24, I think it shows us going up to 900,” says Bob Brauneisen, the principle for Castaic Middle School.
The increased number of students is expected to come from the new residential developments such as the Newhall Ranch project and the new houses being built up in the Northlake community.
“The high school needs 400 kids to open up their first year. I have 250-something seventh graders; my current seventh graders will be their first class,” says Brauneisen. “Now of those 250 kids, how many do you think will go to Valencia or West Ranch because they have siblings?”
However, the Hart Union High School District doesn’t see the low enrollment at CMS deterring their plans for the high school.
The new high school will have open enrollment like the other schools within the district, allowing students from all over Santa Clarita Valley to attend.
“The school will be open to other students around the district. So for example if a student is at La Mesa Junior High School or Sierra Vista Junior High School or whatever junior high school it might be, that would be a ninth grader in the fall of 2019, they can go to Castaic High School if they so choose,” says Dave Caldwell, a spokesman for the Hart Union High School District. “So we’ll be open, have open enrollment and with the objective being to be able to have the right number of enrollment.”
The Hart District also plans to include amenities in the new high school that other schools aren’t offering, which will help the school appeal to people even if it is a further drive.
“One of the things that is going to be unique about the school is the career technical education component of it. There is a building that is going to be for career technical education with the goal being to have it modular,” Caldwell says.
This component will allow students to have a hands on experience with careers such as dentistry. This will include having dentist chairs, spit sinks or any other equipment they would need to prepare students for a career in dentistry. The room can even be changed when needed to teach other career classes.
Another component of the school would to have COC classes taught on the high school campus, so any student with a qualifying GPA can be concurrently enrolled.
“We are hoping to be able to have an academy similar to Academy of the Canyons that is currently at College of the Canyons,” says Caldwell.
Academy of the Canyons currently accepts roughly 100 students every year through a lottery system. By allowing Castaic High School to teach COC classes on campus, this would give the high school students college credit which would make Castaic High School a popular choice for students. Students who aren’t drawn in the lottery at AOC will have the opportunity to enroll at Castaic High School to get the same concurrent enrollment status.
The school district wants people to be excited for the school and look at the prospect the school has to offer the community.
And if anyone is skeptical about the school, they suggest residents and prospective students attend an event that will be held at the high school in August to see what this school has to offer and what life at Castaic High School will be like for students.