Smaller high schools on horizon

In Long Beach education, one thing that’s always been large will be small in the future.

Long Beach Unified School District is planning to open several small high schools throughout the city as part of the district’s Facility Master Plan. Under the plan, the district is moving to close small elementary and K-8 schools in neighborhoods with low enrollment, while it revamps and builds more schools in high-density areas.

Officials said that will alleviate crowding in the large high schools, which have up to 4,000 students, and improve the quality of education with smaller classrooms.

The plan kicks off this fall with the opening of McBride High School, which specializes in medical, engineering and public service careers, in East Long Beach. The school will have about 1,000 students.

Plans are in the works for a second high school at Hill Street and Redondo Avenue. It will serve about 800 students in a career pathway program focused on tourism, recreation and hospitality. Construction is set to begin next summer.

A third high school is to be built near Jordan High School in North Long Beach, and there are plans for a fourth high school at the former site of Butler Middle School in Central Long Beach.

While the district has experienced a decline in enrollment since its peak of 96,000 students in 2003, enrollment didn’t decline as much as projected for 2012, LBUSD spokesman Chris Eftychiou said. Last year, the district had about 81,500 students.

"We may be experiencing a leveling off, after several years of declining enrollment," he said.

Nonetheless, the district will benefit from smaller high schools since is has some of the largest high schools in the state, Eftychiou said.

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