DVHS experiences unprecedented levels of student population growth

This year, the DVHS student body is experiencing an all-time population high due to the large number of incoming freshmen.

The school now has 3,007 students, with 823 freshmen. When the school first opened, it was equipped to accommodate 2,200 students, according to a firm that consulted on the school’s construction.

Since then, 12 portables and 12 new classrooms have been created, increasing Dougherty’s capacity to 2,920 students at 30 students per classroom.

However, students have noticed a sharp increase in class sizes, with many classes having more than 35 students.

“In some cases… I think [greater class sizes] will greatly affect me,” sophomore Shreya Puli said.

English teacher Ms. Megan Manley teaches a class with 37 students. She noticed an average increase of 5-7 students in the classes she teaches compared to last year.

When asked about the effect of rising class sizes, she said, “I do think it can have an effect on both the student and the teacher because there is only one teacher that has to spread their time across [all] students. Also, the turnaround time for work and projects is longer.”

A major study by the National Education Policy Center cements the belief that smaller class sizes are better for learning and increases standardized testing scores. In contrast, DVHS’ scores have held constant despite rising numbers.

Principal Dave Kravitz has said there is no anxiety involved even with a school of this size.

“We are very busy. Last year we added a fourth principal. Most schools have three,” Kravitz said.

He also notes that the school may not be done expanding.

“Nothing has been approved, but there has been consideration of new portables, one possible area being the rear parking lot. We have to remain flexible, we change every year — one constant being student population. We need to make more space to accommodate the surge in students, as a comprehensive high school,” he said.   

The district and school are well aware of the problem and are finding ways to combat it.

Registrar Nancy Ainsworth says, “Administration developed a way for multiple teachers to share classrooms to accommodate growth … It’s the only fix we have.”

A study by Davis Demographics and Planning, Inc., finds that in 2021, the school will hold 3,761 students, which would logistically require a fifth building expansion.

Mrs. Tina Perault, a Senior Planning and Development Planning Manager in the SRVUSD Facilities Department, says that no further expansions to DVHS are planned.

She says, “If they need additional classrooms, [then] portables will be added temporarily. [There are] smaller incoming kindergarten and first grade classes. The highest level is fifth grade; then it tapers down.”

Though the district population will decline, DVHS’ population is not expected to reduce, according to the same Davis Demographics study

In fact, DVHS’s population is expected to increase by 700, but all other high schools in the district are expected to become smaller.

Within California, DVHS is not alone. The state’s student to teacher ratio is the highest in the nation. California has passed measures to limit class sizes in K-8 classrooms, but high schools are controlled by each district’s superintendent.