There are students at Westlake High School who go their entire day without a class in the actual school building.
With 34 satellite classrooms installed on the grounds outside of the high school, there is practically an entire other school outside of the main building. And with more students coming next year, it’s running out places to put students.
“We don’t have any additional room to set any additional satellites there,” said Kimberly Bird, a spokeswoman for Alpine School District.
Westlake High School in Saratoga Springs had 3,062 students enrolled as of Oct. 1, according to enrollment numbers from Alpine School District. When part-time students are factored it, such as homeschooled students who attend the school for a period or two, that number jumps another 100.
It’s the only high school west of Lehi until a new high school under construction in Eagle Mountain opens in 2019.
Last year’s enrollment report from Alpine School District anticipated Westlake High School would have 3,071 students in 2017, 3,307 in 2018, and, if the yet-unnamed Eagle Mountain high school isn’t completed, 3,590 students in 2019 or even surpass 4,000 students for 2021.
It’s the first year Westlake High School has had over 3,000 students, and it’s causing the school to look for creative options to handle the masses.
“You know, you would think with that many kids it would seem crowded, but it really doesn’t,” said Gary Twitchell, principal of Westlake High School.
In addition to the 34 portable classrooms, the school has expanded to three lunch periods. Next year, Twitchell said the school is planning to convert multipurpose rooms into classrooms. A computer lab has already been turned into a mobile computer lab in order to turn the room into a classroom and there are two roaming teachers who don’t have permanent classrooms to teach in.
Bird said the school is studying adding two class periods to the school day for next year — one before school and one after.
Twitchell isn’t worried about next year’s numbers.
“The facility itself can handle what we have and next year I’m pretty confident we can handle what we get,” he said.
Based on crowding, Twitchell said Westlake High School looks less packed than Lone Peak High School in Highland, which has 500 fewer students.
Westlake High School will drop in numbers after the Eagle Mountain high school opens, although the number won’t be known until boundaries are drawn next year. After the split, multipurpose rooms will be converted back, but Twitchell doesn’t anticipate the portable classrooms will leave.
The high school isn’t the only school to see growth over the past year. Alpine School District as a whole has grown to more than 79,000 students, according to Oct. 1 enrollment numbers. That’s above the projected 77,894 students expected in 2017, according to 2016 projections, which also predicted 78,989 students in 2018.
There were 77,457 students enrolled in Alpine School District at the same time last year. At this rate, it will surpass 80,000 students next year.
Bird said the additional students are spread out across the district’s more than 80 schools and is not causing major issues at the schools. She said the district’s projections are designed to be conservative so the district doesn’t overhire employees.
The additional growth is not anticipated to bump up timelines for new school construction projects. Along with the high school in Eagle Mountain, the district is also in the middle of constructing elementary schools in Lehi and Eagle Mountain.
Construction on a new elementary and middle school in Saratoga Springs will begin next year.