Along with a rise in test scores and classroom temperatures, Branham has experienced a dramatic increase in enrollment, with more than 1,600 students now roaming the halls. That number might increase to 2,000 students within the next several years.
Branham has quickly shed its reputation as a second-rate school and as a second choice to Leigh for those students who live within the free zone boundary that allows them to choose between attending Branham or Leigh.
Improved test scores, a glowing Western Association of Schools and Colleges accreditation report, and a reputation for a close-knit community have drawn prospective students to choose Branham over Leigh, even to the extent of enticing students living inside the Leigh attendance boundary to attempt to transfer to Branham.
However, this increased enrollment has not come without growing pains. Increasingly crowded classrooms, having to share P.E. lockers, barely navigable hallways and longer lines for purchasing dance tickets have all been cited by students as cause for concern over Branham’s expanding student population.
Contractractual obligations limiting class sizes has made it difficult for counselors to place students in their preferred classes. Pickup and dropoff traffic and congestion before and after school has also increased.
Students, staff, parents and administrators are all considering the issues that Branham’s increased draw has created.
Many solutions, ranging from grade-level based staggered schedules in order to reduce traffic in the halls, to construction of new portable buildings have been proposed, but no definitive plan to address the issue has been decided upon yet.