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Declining enrollment reflects larger trend

Freshman enrollment will likely decline again this year at Nevada Union High School, Principal Marty Mathiesen said Friday.

Mathiesen said this school year’s frosh class has 620 students, though that number could creep up before school starts on Aug. 13. Last year, the school had 650 freshmen, he said.

The continuing trend at NU reflects the larger demographic changes in Nevada County that cause officials to worry about the future: It’s the second-oldest county in the state, and while housing prices continue to dip to more affordable ranges, the scarcity of good-paying jobs makes it hard for young families to afford living here.



When he became principal five years ago, NU had around 2,800 students, Mathiesen said. Now, it’s around 2,450.

“We’ve lost about 100 kids a year for a while now,” he said.




Fewer students means less state aid, as school funding is based upon enrollment and attendance. The decline in enrollment and state aid also comes at a time when the state is facing a budget crisis that could impact school districts in the future.

The school has cut $1.75 million from this year’s budget, after trimming nearly $1 million the previous year. About 80 to 85 percent of the school’s budget goes to personnel costs, Mathiesen said.

The Nevada Joint Unified School District, which includes Bear River High School and alternative schools, has an annual budget of around $33 million, he added.

The school year kicks off with freshmen orientation on Aug. 1 in the wrestling gym. From 8 a.m. to 11 a.m., the school holds what it calls Link Crew Orientation, which is where one upperclassman is assigned to 10 freshmen and helps them get acclimated to the school.

“We’re going to have some awesome fun and activities and do some team-building,” Mathiesen said.

In the afternoon, the freshmen will turn in their paperwork and receive high school schedules, textbooks and lockers.

Senior orientation is from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. on Aug. 4, and juniors meet from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. that day. Sophomore orientation is from 8 a.m. to noon Aug. 5.

Mathiesen will assign single lockers to freshmen, while upperclassmen will share lockers in a location of their choice.

For online information about the Nevada Union orientations, go to http://www.nuhsd.org.

To contact Staff Writer Pat Butler, e-mail pbutler@theunion.com or call 477-4239.


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