A huge cohort of new teachers just joined the Mountain View Los Altos Union High School District.
The 41 newcomers represent the largest incoming staff class in the past decade. MVLA schools include 230 teachers overall, meaning nearly 18 percent of the staff are new this year.
A larger student body, staff retirements and new courses drove the staffing increase, according to Barry Groves, district superintendent.
“We’ve had some retirements but probably not more than usual,” Groves said, noting that some turnover related to temporary absences by staff starting families.
The district experienced a second year of enrollment growth among students, increasing its headcount by approximately 150 compared to last year and 300 more than the 2012-2013 school year. Grove anticipates total district enrollment of approximately 3,913 students this year.
Groves said the increase in student numbers included a migration from private schools in addition to new families moving into the area.
“As everything increases, there seem to be more students of all kinds coming back from private schools to our schools and significantly increased numbers of special-education students entering high school,” he said. “I like to think that it’s the quality of our program and that many of our families have a choice and are choosing to come back from private schools for either their special-education needs or general-education requirements.”
Three administrators also joined the district: Carmen Gomez as assistant principal at Mountain View High, Suzanne Woolfolk as assistant principal at Los Altos High and Mike Mathiesen as associate superintendent of business services and technology.
Some of the staff increase reflects reduced classroom sizes – the district posted a $2 million budget surplus last year, enabling it to introduce additional sections of some courses plus support classes related to subject-specific study skills. Both high schools have injected new courses into the curriculum. Mountain View High added four new courses: Introduction to Journalism, Introduction to Computer Programming, Advanced Placement Physics 1 and Multivariate Calculus. Los Altos High School added Introduction to Engineering Design, Advanced Placement Physics 1 and Advanced Placement Physics 2.
Groves said the district was flush with candidates during this hiring round. He estimated that an average of nearly 200 people applied for each open position. Only 15 of the new teachers are novices in the profession, and Groves added that the district hired for a diversity of experience.
“One of the surprising things we look for is the teacher’s grade-point average as an undergrad,” he said. “We’re looking not only for people who are strong teachers, but who were strong students themselves.”