Is Hylton Running Out of Students?

C.D. Hylton’s student population is decreasing. It started out gradually, with the opening of Charles J. Colgan Senior High School, but over time, it’s snowballed.

There was actually a year, a few years ago where they were right on the money and since then we’ve been going lower than what they’ve predicted.” Principal at Hylton, David Cassady Jr., stated in an interview.  This year’s predictions for the number of students at Hylton was 2,750 but we opened the school year with only 2,350. Our number has gone up to around 2,500 kids due to transfer students. According to Cassady, we are “landlocked” as a school: the area we pull from reaches from Spriggs Road to Dale Boulevard and from Hoadly Road to Minnieville Road. Within this limited area, there has been no new housing development, families are aging out of Hylton, and even some specialty program transfer numbers have dropped. “I hope they adjust boundaries at some point.” Mr. Cassady said, adding, “Sometimes smaller is better because you don’t want to be overcrowded.”

While one upside to our loss of students is not being overcrowded, it’s not a good thing for our specialty programs. Where in the past, Hylton has been able to send “advertisements” out to all middle schools in the county to promote our specialty programs, but over the last few years, that hasn’t been able to happen. With the dropping of students in our specialty programs, comes the dropping of some classes. For example, next year there will be no Journalism class (it will be combined with Creative Writing) and several AP language and history classes have been removed from the course selection. At one point, there were nine world languages offered at Hylton through the CISL Program here, now we’re down to six; the TV Production Program is down about 25 kids, equivalent to an entire class. On the opposite side, though, the Cabinetmaking and Auto Technology programs are reportedly “bursting at the seams,” and had to turn some students away.

Tom Reed

Not only is this a detriment to our specialty programs but also to our sports and clubs, “Our football team has really declined over the last four or five years because our population is down. We had a regional championship baseball team that went to the state playoffs four years ago, and we’re struggling to field a team now.” Cassady stated. He went on to talk about how there are only one or two Freshman teams and they’re struggling to maintain some JV teams. According to the VHSL Guidelines, Hylton High School is currently a Division 6 School, which has from 1,951 to 3,777 kids, and next year we may become a Division 5 School, which has from 1,541 to 1,950 kids.

“You hate to see that for kids ’cause you want them to experience those things.” Mr. Cassady said.

The decline of student enrollment at Hylton leaves our future as a school unknown. The number of students determines the amount of money each school gets, and since there’s a drop in student enrollment, there may be pay cuts. These may include the salary of teachers and administration, equipment for classrooms (whiteboards, computers, etc.), paper, rental copy machines, equipment for the custodial staff, and a lot more.  The drop in budget could lead to some teachers and administrators leaving.