by Mena Mohamed
The effects of increasing enrollment at Stuart have never been understated. They can be felt by students in the hallway, in the classroom, and in the lunch line as space around the school continues to get tighter. While Stuart has been renovated, one major issue has yet to be solved – overpopulation.
As Principal Prosperanta Calhoun stated at a September PTSA meeting, “School numbers have increased significantly. There are 1,931 [students] compared to 1,819 last year.” With the school population growing steadily, solutions to the inevitable problems that arise with limited space and increasing enrollment can be cost heavy and impractical. To combat this, Stuart’s administration is attempting to tackle the overpopulation problem in new ways students may notice around the school.
Assistant Superintendent Fabio Zuluaga commented on Stuart’s overcapacity, “For recent growth, we are evaluating where to find space within the building with additional classrooms in the library [and the] possible use of auto tech area.”
Chief among these solutions is the strategic use of classroom space. In the past, classroom size was not an issue; there were enough classrooms and teachers to accommodate for the number of students. However, times have changed.
Long-time math teacher Ruth Cornelson teaches in three separate rooms and expressed concern about the rapid growth, “We were very short classrooms this year…Stuart’s population is growing, but not the classrooms.” According to FCPS’ Capital Improvement Plan, this fall, Stuart enrollment is nearing 2,000 students, making it increasingly difficult to find classroom space when the school was originally built to hold a maximum of 1,968 students.
Classrooms are popping up in new and innovative places to make full use of every corner of space available. The library conference room has been converted to a classroom where math and ESOL classes are being taught.
Math teacher Alissa Wunder teaches Algebra II students in the new classroom, “[It] is wonderful. We have many more students at Stuart and we are trying our best to find classroom space for all classes.”
Junior Christine Phan agreed, “I like the new classroom. It’s a good idea to have class in there because it is big with enough space for everybody unlike our old one.”
Additionally, the former tech room at the end of the foreign language hallway has been converted into an alternative Spanish classroom. Trailers for Stuart may also be a short-term solution to add more space, although their location and quantity are still up in the air.
All in all, although the effect of serving more students is getting more prominent within the Stuart community, the problem is being addressed in an innovative and constructive manner.
“The current capacity is around 2,000; we would like it to be around 2,500. We will provide a short-term plan in January,” Zuluaga commented.