In an apparent confirmation of projections that the number of students at Menlo-Atherton High School would begin to rise significantly with the 2015-16 school year, enrollment is up about 6 percent from a year ago.
While the total fluctuates from month to month, M-A's enrollment in January 2016 was 2,290 students compared to 2,154 a year earlier, Principal Simone Rick-Kennel told the Almanac.
A 2013 demographic study predicted that Sequoia Union High School District enrollment would grow at least 22 percent by the 2020-21 school year.
The study predicted the greatest impact in high schools that serve the Menlo Park and Las Lomitas elementary districts and districts in San Carlos and Belmont-Redwood Shores, with enrollment at M-A expected to grow by at least 25 percent.
The study had also predicted around 19 percent enrollment growth at Woodside High, but that prediction seems not to be panning out. Enrollment grew 2 percent in 2014-15, but leveled out for 2015-16, according to state and Sequoia district data.
Woodside High Principal Diane Burbank attributed the trend to the high cost of living pushing families away from Redwood City to lower cost areas, and to the recent reassignment to M-A of all students from the Ravenswood City School District in East Palo Alto. Some Ravenswood students had been assigned to Woodside since the 1980s.
Also headed in opposite directions at the two schools is participation in the federal free-or-reduced-price-lunch program. At Woodside, participation in the 2015-16 school year dropped to 40 percent of students from 50 percent a year ago, Ms. Burbank said.
But at M-A, participation in the lunch program grew to 37 percent of students in the 2015-16 school year, up from 36 percent a year ago, Ms. Rick-Kennel said.
With the M-A enrollment surge in mind, the Sequoia district is building a new magnet school for 300 to 400 students and located in the industrial area of Menlo Park east of U.S. 101.
A second magnet school was planned for San Carlos, but a new study shows a "more stable picture" for enrollment in the northern end of the district, leading district officials to delay a decision on that school.