Local school overcrowding may stabilize
School district anticipates only a 3 percent increase in student population next school year
The worst may almost be over for overcrowded classrooms in the Hesperia Unified School District, with enrollment and new home construction tapering off.
Next school year, Hesperia High School is expected to have more than 3,900 students and schools across the Hesperia Unified School District are having yet more portable classrooms added to the campus.
But the worst may soon be over.
For the last few years, the HUSD was growing more than 5 percent a year, but expects to bring in fewer new students last year, and grow at a more steady rate for the foreseeable future.
"Here we were, 6, 7, 8 percent a couple of years," Superintendent Hank Richardson said Thursday. "We're projecting next year for 3 percent [growth], and I think we're going to be right on target with that."
Homes in the Victor Valley are selling approximately half as fast as they did this time last year and permits for new single-family residences in Hesperia are down, as well.
"On top of that, the ones that are being pulled, the developers have a tendency to hold onto them instead of immediately develop them," Richardson said. "You don't see the activity at the sites that we saw dramatically over the last couple of years."
But although the Development Impact Fees from new home construction will be waning, local government should be getting more revenue with which to build schools, parks and pave roads from another source, one long-awaited by many residents.
"The flip side of that is the commercial permits, according to city information, is one of the biggest [numbers] they've ever had," Richardson said. "And you witness that just driving up and down Main Street."
Residential building hasn't stopped completely, of course.
"There's still some construction going on over on Ranchero. There's still some quality construction going on in Maple."
The HUSD will be opening three elementary schools, a middle school and a new high school to keep up with the growing student body, but Richardson is hoping the growth never totally stops in Hesperia.
"Growth is great. Continuous growth at a reasonable rate is best," he said. "A nice 3 to 4 percent rate is very manageable rate for the district. ... I don't think we're going to be like Colton where the [population] wave rolled right past them and now they're losing people."
Richardson now looks forward to a future of more manageable growth.
"I think long-term, three, four, five years out, I think we're going to be in a very positive growth pattern."
But he's not counting his chickens -- or students -- before they're hatched.
"I like the trends that I'm seeing, but the trends are different. A year ago, it was 8 percent, and we thought it was going to be 10-12 percent" this year.
Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.