95014: Cupertino’s population change

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95014: Cupertino’s population change

Om Khandekar

Residents of Cupertino speak of its safe roads and scenic vistas. They talk about calm nights, , quirky hideouts, and maybe even early morning hikes through Cupertino’s Open Space Preserves. Now, wall to wall traffic that has become a Bay Area mainstay.

Streets like McClellan andand Stevens Creek are crammed daily with brake-lights after waves of students disseminate to the four corners of Cupertino. A mere mile away, De Anza Blvd absorbs traffic from businesses dotted along the streets. Even worse, the street seems to spit these cars onto gridlocked I-85 and I-280. However, in the classroom there seems to be no consensus as to how the growing population is being impacted by these students.

Senior Himaja Tammineni has lived in the Bay Area her entire life, and she believes that MVHS is going through a population swell. According to her, each passing year seems to add more students to each grade.

Tammineni believes that a growing class population would negatively impact the school district. However, according to FUHSD’s analysis of school capacities, MVHS can support 2,410 students and currently has a student population of 2,380 students. FEA site president Bonnie Belshe can understand why Tammineni believes MVHS is gaining an influx of students, but also believes there are multiple reasons to explain why this is happening.

“We do have slightly bigger classes, like class overall as in graduating classes, for sophomores and freshman,” Belshe said. “It’s actually that we had smaller graduating classes that are now juniors and seniors. That was actually a dip in enrollment, and this is back up to where we previously had been.”

Another reason is that class sizes during freshman year are intentionally kept smaller, with a ratio of 23:1 teachers to students for freshman literature classes and a ratio of 28:1 students to teachers for every other classes. As students progress in grade levels, classes get larger by design.

According to United States Census Bureau, Cupertino’s population stands at 64, 643 people. Aside from a 14,000 person increase since the 2000 census, recent plans to develop the city, such as the Cupertino Main Street and the Apple Park, have begun to reach completion. They dot the skyline and are setting the backdrop for a change in the sense community that defines Cupertino.

Residents Grace and Ben Vong, who have lived in Cupertino for 25 years, are Cupertino mainstays who say they feel their community slipping away.

“I think it’s going to make it more like a city than it is a community,” Grace said. “I think there’s just too much building going on. I think it just changes the whole dynamic. We’re used to just families, schools and a very safe type of environment.”

For schools in FUHSD, the population has been affecting school attendance in a different way. According to a Jan. 2016 article published by the Mercury News, on Jan. 12, 2016, the FUHSD administration reviewed the idea of shifting school boundaries to bolster class sizes at Lynbrook HS, citing dropping enrollment numbers at the school as the primary issue. Ultimately the compromise was to offer middle schoolers at Miller MS the option to attend LHS for the 2017-18 school year, as opposed to diverting a neighborhood of incoming freshman from Cupertino HS to LHS. Although more high density housing has been built in Cupertino, it has been in the CHS area causing administration at CHS to hire more teachers to deal with the influx.

“We have some high density housing that’s in the MVHS attendance area, but we’ve had that for years,” Belshe said. “For us we’re pretty steady in that way.”

Soaring housing prices, also mentioned in the report submitted to FUHSD by Enrollment Projection Consultants, seem to be the more pressing concern that are coming alongside population concerns in Cupertino. Senior Hannah Kan can still recall the allure of MVHS and the hidden costs of living in the area. Kan previously lived in Virginia, and left after her sophomore year to come to California. She was drawn to MVHS because of its focus on academics, but at the same time, she remembers how her family had to get used to the high housing prices.

“If prices keep increasing and they’re building more houses, I don’t know how many students would be able to come here,” Kan said. “Like families would have to be really wealthy.”

Opinions are split about whether or not the growth in Cupertino has a positive impact on the community. Tammineni is glad that the city is revitalizing itself, whereas Kan can see the growth negatively impacting students who wish to live within MVHS’ area boundaries. Grace and Ben have been worried about this shift for a few years now.

“I think you’ll see two polarized types of opinions,” Grace said. “Residents who have been here for many years, like us, where we’re used to Cupertino the way it was. We are happier to have fewer people in the city. We’re very comfortable the way things were. And then there is a large group of people that want to access Cupertino, they work here they want to be able to live near work. [The] schools are great schools, they want their kids to be able to attend these schools.”

As of now, FUHSD has been addressing the educational capacities of its schools on a yearly basis, by both hiring outside consultants to evaluate the capacities of its schools and hiring teachers accordingly. However, the same fear that Cupertino will be as difficult to become a resident in as the Kans found it to be remains.

“Right now home prices and rents, they keep going up — it’s like trying to catch a train that’s just pulling away,” Ben said. “That’s probably another reason we don’t support super fast rates or growth if it leads to a higher cost of living and a higher cost to buy a home or to rent here. That’s less chance that our kids will be able to have the freedom to come back here into their home if they were to come back to this area.”