Big Interest in Smalller High Schools

Two of the Long Beach Unified School District’s newest and smallest high schools have received more applicants than they can accommodate, with parents and students showing keen interest in the specialized programs these schools offer.

McBride High School, which opened its brand new campus in 2013, and the Sato Academy of Mathematics and Science, which opens this fall, both accept applicants from throughout the school district and beyond. The two schools do not have specific attendance boundaries.

McBride received 947 applications and accepted 253 students. The school offers three thematic pathways that complement a college prep curriculum, including Engineering, Health and Medical, and Public Services and Forensics.

The three pathways have attracted significant numbers of students from outside the school district. The Public Services and Forensics pathway accepted 21 percent of its students from outside LBUSD for next fall, while 13 percent of students accepted to the Health and Medical pathway came from outside the school district. About 12 percent of students accepted to McBride’s Engineering pathway are from outside LBUSD.

Specialized programs at the school district’s large, comprehensive high schools continue to hold their own, with many of those programs receiving two or three times the number of applicants they can accommodate. But the newer and smaller high schools, which resulted from community input during the development of a districtwide Facility Master Plan, are proving to be another popular option.

“We want to give parents and students as many high-quality choices as possible when it comes to selecting a school,” LBUSD Superintendent Christopher J. Steinhauser said. “We’re pleased that families are taking full advantage of these new schools and additional career pathways that will prepare students for success in college and the working world.”

Though the Sato Academy has yet to open, it has already received more than enough applications for its initial freshman class of about 175 students, who will start classes this fall. Sato will be located at the Hill Classical Middle School site near Cal State Long Beach. The Sato program is modeled after the nationally recognized California Academy of Mathematics and Science, which is run by LBUSD on the campus of Cal State Dominguez Hills. Because CAMS regularly receives twice as many applicants as the school can accommodate, the program is being replicated to meet high demand.

The new Sato Academy also has attracted interest from beyond the school district, with about 13 percent of the inaugural class of ninth graders coming from outside LBUSD.

The school district has planned for additional small, thematic high schools to open in the coming years, including Browning High School at 2180 Obispo Ave. in Long Beach, near Signal Hill. Scheduled to open in fall 2016, Browning will offer a college prep curriculum along with a career pathway focused on tourism, recreation, hospitality and people movement.