Some schools in Folsom are filling to capacity. It may change where students end up

The Folsom Cordova Unified School District is exploring rezoning some schools, potentially impacting which high schools students in the district end up at.

More than 100 parents packed Folsom High School’s multipurpose room on Thursday evening, many of them concerned over which strategy the district will take in alleviating student capacity at some schools. Some students could end up an schools farther from home.

The primary issue, district officials said, is that both Sutter and Folsom Middle Schools serve about 1,500 students and are nearing capacity. Meanwhile, Folsom High School can enroll 2,600 students and Vista del Lago High School has capacity for 1,600. Folsom High School can enroll more students because, unlike Vista del Lago, it has space for temporary classrooms.

Currently, Sutter Middle School students move on to Folsom High School, and Folsom Middle School students move to Vista del Lago. The feeder pattern is sending too many students to Visa del Lago, said the district.

But that could change; one scenario under consideration would mean Folsom Middle School grads would end up at Folsom High School.

“So they lose all of their friends after middle school?” asked one parent.

The district presented seven scenarios, some of which would shift where elementary aged students in Folsom end up for middle school, in an attempt to shift population away from Vista del Lago.

Some parents sat shaking their heads at several of the options.

The district said no decisions have been made and that the board is considering all options.

“The top priority is maintaining a level of excellence, and when families, students and educators come to schools that are overcrowded it’s harder to maintain that level of excellence,” said district spokesman Dan Thigpen. “We have to have these difficult conversations understanding it’s hard on our families, to maintain an exceptional educational environment.”

Kylene Monday has a daughter at Vista del Lago and a son at Folsom Middle School. With the changes, her son would move on to Folsom High School, and not attend school with his sister.

“We bought a house in our area so our children can go to Vista,” Monday said. “Part of my plan was to have my daughter drive my son to school.”

Monday hopes VIsta del Lago will make an exception for her son, but district officials said they are looking at what those exceptions would look like.

Some students can be “grandfathered” into their nearby high school over the next year and not move on to the newly proposed school for their area, since the changes may came suddenly.

“We want to balance the very real needs of our schools, while trying to do very little disruption to the families,” Thigpen said.

The district said the changes are not related to the new housing developments south of Highway 50. Folsom Cordova Unified plans to build five elementary schools, one middle school and one high school there.

Folsom Cordova Unified plans to hold another parent forum on Oct. 3.

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Sawsan Morrar covers school accountability and culture for The Sacramento Bee. She grew up in Sacramento and is an alumna of UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She previously freelanced for various publications including The Washington Post, Vice, KQED and Capital Public Radio.